The number of people filing new claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose in the latest week to its highest level in close to six months, a fresh signal of a weak jobs market.
The number of new claims for jobless benefits rose 2,000 to 484,000 in the week ended August 7, the second straight increase, Labor Department data showed on Thursday.
The four-week moving average, which economists prefer because it smoothes out weekly fluctuations, rose 14,250 to 473,500, also the highest level since the week ended February 20.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected claims in the latest week to fall to 465,000 from the previously reported 479,000.
The number of people still collecting unemployment benefits after an initial week of aid in the week ended July 31 fell 118,000 to 4.45 million, the lowest level since late June. Economists had expected 4.53 million. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell 64,500 to 4.52 million, the lowest level since December 2008.
(Reporting by Corbett B. Daly; Editing by Andrea Ricci)