After reaching a seven-year-low, jobless claims rose for the week ending May 17, and is higher than the 315,000 claims estimate made by economists surveyed by MarketWatch. Claims have been volatile the last few weeks on account of the timing of a late Easter holiday.
Despite the rise last week, claims continue to hover near pre-recession levels as employers are cutting fewer jobs since the end of the downturn in 2009.
Average claims for the last four weeks, which normally accounts for such volatility, dropped 1,000 to 322,500. Claims for the week ending May 10 were revised up by 1,000 to 289,000.
The total number of people claiming such benefits, also known as continuing claims, ending the week of May 3 was 2,620,476, a decrease of 84,543 from the previous week. Continuing claims are reported with a two-week lag.
When viewed over a long period of time, the trend seems to suggest that the labor market is improving after facing a dip during the first few months of the year.