Jobless claims increased more than expected last week, reflecting a jump in California that otherwise masked steady progress in the U.S. labor market.
Initial applications for unemployment benefits climbed 13,000 to a one-month high of 277,000 in the week ended June 11, a report from the Labor Department showed Thursday. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 270,000.
Claims in California increased by more than 19,000 on an unadjusted basis, probably due in part to schools closing for summer recess, a Labor Department spokesman said as the numbers were released. Even with the advance, filings across the U.S. are consistent with Federal Reserve policy makers’ view that employment will continue to expand after a recent slowdown.
“As long as the trend for jobless claims remains low, that suggests that businesses are still relatively confident about the economic outlook,” said Ryan Wang, an economist at HSBC Securities USA Inc., whose forecast was among the closest in the Bloomberg survey. “We need to see claims above the 300,000 level before we would be concerned about a genuine deterioration in the labor market.”
Economists’ estimates in the Bloomberg survey for weekly jobless claims ranged from 257,000 to 280,000. The previous week’s figure was unrevised at 264,000.
No states estimated data last week and there was nothing unusual in the data, according to the Labor Department.
Jobless claims can be difficult to seasonally adjust leading up to summer breaks at schools, which occur at different times across the country, and around holidays such as Memorial Day. In addition to the 19,470 unadjusted advance in California, filings increased by 6,436 in Pennsylvania.
The four-week moving average of claims, a less volatile measure than the weekly figures, eased to 269,250 from 269,500.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits rose by 45,000 to 2.16 million in the week ended June 4. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits rose to 1.6 percent from 1.5 percent. These data are reported with a one-week lag.
Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings, and a sustained low level of applications has typically coincided with faster job gains. Layoffs can also reflect company- or industry-specific causes, such as cost-cutting or business restructuring.