Claims for U.S. jobless benefits increased last week

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(Bloomberg) — Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits rose to the highest level since mid-December, representing a departure from other data showing a solid labor market. The Labor Department issued corrected data on Friday to reflect “proper application of the new seasonal adjustment factors.”

Jobless claims increased by 15,000 to 261,000 in the week ended March 18, according to the agency. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for 240,000. On an unadjusted basis, applications jumped in Ohio and Kansas. Before today’s correction, the Labor Department reported Thursday that applications rose to 258,000.

Even with the pickup in claims last week, hiring managers have been slow to dismiss workers as the labor market tightens and job vacancies become harder to fill with skilled and experienced employees. Companies also have been adding to payrolls at a healthy pace and gradually increasing wages.

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 220,000 to 255,000.

Thursday’s report included annual revisions for both initial and continuing claims back through 2012.

No states were estimated last week and there was nothing unusual in the data, according to the Labor Department. In Ohio, applications climbed 4,260 before seasonal adjustment, while jobless claims in Kansas increased by 2,774.

The four-week average for all jobless claims rose to 246,500 from 243,000 in the prior week.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits decreased by 35,000 to 2 million in the week ended March 11. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits dropped to 1.4 percent from 1.5 percent. These data are reported with a one-week lag.

Bloomberg News