New claims for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped last week, in line with market expectations, as employers cut payrolls to cope with the severe recession, the Labor Department reported on July 23. First-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 554,000 in the week ended July 18, after a revised 524,000 in the preceding week.
"It's the third or fourth week of a lot of volatility in our series," a department statistician said.
Over the preceding three weeks, initial jobless claims had fallen by a cumulative total of 106,000.
The department explained that the seasonally adjusted data was skewed because industrial layoffs that usually occur in early July happened earlier this year with the bankruptcies of auto giants General Motors and Chrysler.
On a four-week moving average, a more reliable indicator of the labor market, the number of new claims filed fell to 566,000 from the previous week's revised 585,000.
The Labor Department reported that for the week ended July 11, the insured unemployment rate was 4.7%, unchanged from the prior week.
The number of people collecting unemployment insurance benefits dropped to 6.225 million, from a revised 6.313 million.
The four-week moving average to the week ended July 11 also fell, to 6.541 million from a revised 6.674 million.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009