The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits increased by the most in 19 months last week, but the underlying trend continued to point to labor market strength.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits jumped 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 230,000 for the week ended April 20, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The increase was the largest since early September 2017. Claims dropped to 193,000 in the week prior, which was the lowest level since September 1969.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to only 200,000 in the latest week. The Labor Department said no states were estimated last week. Claims tend to be volatile around this time of the year because of the different timings of Easter and Passover holidays, as well as spring breaks.
Despite the volatility, labor market strength remains intact. The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 4,500 to 206,000 last week.