The number of new unemployment claims filed last week rose to its highest level in two months though the long term trend remains broadly supportive of an improving labor market.
Initial applications for jobless benefits jumped 16,000 to 360,000 according to the Labor Department. Economists in the Bloomberg survey had forecast 340,000 claims. The prior week's applications were revised to 344,000 from 343,000.
July is normally a volatile month for claims as many auto factories shut down to refit for next year's models and the closures affect production and employment in a wide system of auto parts suppliers.
The four week moving average, a more stable measure of labor market activity rose to 351,750, a 6,000 increase from the previous week. The average has seen steady improvement over the past three years falling from 455,000 in the first week of October 2010 to 402,000 a year later and 369,000 in October 2012.
The number of people receiving unemployment benefits rose by 24,000 to 2.98 million in the week ended June 29. This continuing claims figure only includes people whose benefits from their initial claim have not yet expired.
Emergency and extended benefits were collected by 1.65 million people in the week ending June 22, a decrease of 22,700 and the lowest number in over four years.
Chief Market Strategist