U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly rose last week

WASHINGTON, Feb 4 (BestGrowthStock) – The number of U.S. workers
filing new applications for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose
last week, according to a government report on Thursday that
pointed to a labor market still under stress even as the
economy grows.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased
8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 480,000 in the week ended Jan.
30, the Labor Department said.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to
460,000 from a previously reported 470,000.

A Labor Department official described the report as
“straight forward.” Delays in processing applications due to
short staffing at some state employment offices over the
holidays resulted in a backlog that distorted claims data over
the past weeks.

Unemployment, which is lagging the broader economic
recovery, is one of President Barack Obama’s toughest
challenges. Unhappiness over unemployment cost Obama’s
Democrats a crucial Senate seat last month and threatens big
losses for the party in the November congressional elections.

The four-week moving average for new claims rose 11,750 to
468,750 last week. The four-week moving average, considered a
better gauge of underlying trends, rose for a third week after
falling for 19 weeks.

The number of workers still collecting benefits after an
initial week of aid increased 2,000 to 4.60 million in the week
ended Jan. 23. This was above market expectations for 4.58
million. So-called continuing claims remained below 5 million
for the sixth week.

The insured unemployment rate, which measures the
percentage of the insured labor force that is jobless, was
unchanged at 3.5 percent in the week ended Jan. 23.

Stock Report

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly rose last week