New claims for unemployment benefits jumped 46,000 last week, according to data released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
That sent jobless benefit claims to a seasonally adjusted 388,000 for the week ending October 13, topping the 365,000 new benefit claims that economists had expected, Bloomberg noted. The previous week had seen a sharp fall in initial claims.
Labor Department officials attributed the wild swings in jobless claims to seasonal fluctuations and anomalies with one state’s reporting.
The government adjusts unemployment claims data to account for seasonal hiring shifts, including a normal increase in claims at the start of each month. While officials didn’t name the state in question, California has recently bucked normal reporting trends, posting a drop of 4,979 claims in the first week of October.
The government also revised higher the prior week’s new jobless claims from 339,000 to 342,000.
Despite last week’s sharp increase, a four-week moving average of initial unemployment claims increased by just 750, rising to 365,000.
Economists noted that seasonal volatility was disguising a very slowly improving labor market.