WASHINGTON -- Initial jobless claims jumped by 18,000 last week, but remained at a level that indicates moderate labor market growth.
There were 354,000 people who filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ending Saturday, up from a revised 336,000 the previous week, which was near a five-year low, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The increase was more than expected. Analysts had predicted that the number would rise to about 340,000.
But the less-volatile four week average rose just 2,500 to 348,250.
Economists say initial claims of about 350,000 a week indicate that the labor market is growing a moderate pace.
Despite tax increases and federal budget cuts, weekly jobless claims have been trending down this year. That is consistent with the Federal Reserve's assessment Wednesday that labor market conditions have been improving.
The claims figure has been 350,000 or below in 14 of the 24 weekly reports this year, including a five-year low of 327,000 in late April.