Jobless Claims Jump, Though Average Stays Low

Figures released Thursday morning in the United States show the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose slightly more than expected last week, but the four-week average of claims fell to its lowest level since 1973, pointing to strengthening labour market conditions.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 6,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 244,000 for the week ended Feb. 18. Economists had forecast new claims for unemployment benefits rising to 241,000 in the latest week.

However, the four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 4,000 to 241,000 last week, the lowest reading since July 1973.