The number of Americans initially applying for unemployment aid last week rose after hitting its lowest level in nearly three years a week earlier, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.
The Labor Department said that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits was 397,000 in the week ending March 5, an increase of 26,000 from the prior week’s revised figure.
The fresh figure covered the week after the Presidents’ Day holiday. Applications usually climb in weeks following holiday-shortened weeks.
Economists said that fewer than 425,000 people applying for aid is consistent with modest job growth, but the number of jobless claims will have to fall to 375,000 or below to signal a sustained drop in the unemployment rate.
Though the fresh figure was an increase, economists were still encouraged that claims remained below 400,000 for the third straight week.
Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, a more closely watched claims figure, increased to 392,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 389,250.
The advance figure for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Feb.26 was 3.771 million, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week.
In recent months, the U.S. labor market has seen constant improving, with the unemployment rate dropping to 8.9 percent in February, the lowest level in nearly two years.
The weekly figures of jobless benefits application reflect the level of layoffs and indicate real-time conditions of the American job market.