The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased more than expected last week, but the trend in claims remained consistent with a tightening labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 227,000 for the week ended June 23, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims data for the prior week was unrevised. Filings had dropped for four straight weeks prior to the latest data.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 220,000 in the latest week. There is probably limited scope for claims to post significant declines.
The labor market is viewed as being near or at full employment, with the jobless rate at an 18-year low of 3.8 percent. The unemployment rate has dropped by three-tenths of a percentage point this year and is near the Federal Reserve's forecast of 3.6 percent by the end of this year.
The Labor Department said claims for Maine and Wyoming were estimated last week.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, viewed as a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, edged up 1,000 to 222,000 last week.
The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 21,000 to 1.71 million in the week ended June 16. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims dropped 3,750 to 1.72 million, the lowest level since December 1973.
The continuing claims data covered the week of the household survey from which June's unemployment rate will be derived. The four-week average of continuing claims decreased 32,000 between the May and June survey periods, suggesting a further decline in the jobless rate this month was likely.