WASHINGTON -- Initial jobless claims rose more than expected last week to 343,000, but continued to signal moderate labor market growth.
The number of people who filed for first-time unemployment benefits for the week ending Saturday was up 7,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 336,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had projected the level to be 340,000.
The weekly snapshot of the jobs market can be volatile, particularly in the summer as auto plants shut down for their annual retooling.
Reflecting that, the latest state figures released by the Labor Department showed claims were down 11,969 in Michigan for the week ending July 13 because of fewer layoffs in the manufacturing sector.
Ohio, another state with a large auto industry presence, reported 2,501 fewer claims also because of less manufacturing industry layoffs.
Both those states contributed to a sharp drop in claims for the week ending July 13. There is a one-week lag in state data released by the Labor Department.
The four-week average for jobless claims, which smooths out some of the volatility, was down 1,250 to 345,250 last week. Weekly claims below 350,000 indicate a jobs market that is expanding moderately, economists say.
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