Smaller Jump Than Expected for U.S. Jobless Filings

Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased in number, but less than expected last week, pointing to continued labour market strength that could keep the country’s longest economic expansion on track.

Figures released Thursday by the U.S. Labor Department revealed initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 205,000 for the week ended Feb. 8. Claims fell in the prior week to 203,000, which was the lowest reading since November.

Economists had forecast claims rising to 210,000 in the latest week. The department said only claims for Alabama were estimated last week.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, was unchanged at 212,000 last week.