US jobless claims rise 20,000 last week

US jobless claims rise 20,000 last week

Washington: New US claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, government data showed on Thursday, underlining the persistent weakness in the labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 4,57,000, the Labor Department said, reversing the prior week’s decline.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 4,43,000 from the previously reported 4,34,000. The government revised the prior week’s figure up to 4,37,000.

The report came a day after the Federal Reserve announced it would buy an additional $600 billion worth government bonds by the middle of next year to spur the lackluster economic recovery and boost employment.

The second round of asset purchases is intended to push interest rates further down, thereby stimulating domestic demand and prevent the current low inflation environment from spiraling into a damaging bout of deflation.

The claims data has little influence on October’s employment report due on Friday as it falls outside the survey period. The government is expected to report that nonfarm payrolls increased 60,000 last month, likely the first expansion since May, after dropping 95,000 in September, according to a Reuters survey.

A Labor Department official said there was nothing unusual in the claims data and described the report as fairly clean.

Last week, the four-week average of new jobless claims, considered a better measure of underlying labor market trends, rose 2,000 to 456,000.

The number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 42,000 to 4.34 million in the week ended 23 October, the lowest level since the week ending 22 November, 2008. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 4.38 million.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast so-called continuing claims rising to 4.38 million from a previously reported 4.36 million.

The number of people on emergency benefits increased 198,579 to 3.98 million in the week ended 16 October.