WASHINGTON -- Initial jobless claims unexpectedly jumped to a six-week high of 360,000 last week after declining to a post-recession low this month, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The number of people filing for the first-time for unemployment benefits was up 32,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 328,000. Analysts had expected a more modest rise to about 330,000 claims.
The increase was the biggest one-week jump since claims spiked by 88,000 in early November in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
The number of new jobless claims can vary widely week-to-week. The less-volatile four-week average is a better economic barometer, and that figure rose slightly last week to 339,250.
Economists say weekly claims below 350,000 indicate moderate job growth.
Jobless claims had been trending down since a spike in late March to a four-month high; analysts attributed that spike to the difficulties of making seasonal adjustments around the Easter holiday and school spring breaks.
The claims data matched the April jobs report, which showed stronger-than-expected labor market growth and a reduction in the unemployment rate to 7.5%.
The Labor Department initially reported 323,000 claims for the week ending May 4, which was a new five-year low. That figure was revised up to 328,000, leaving the previous week's 327,000 as the post-recession low point.
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