New U.S. jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week, further evidence of a weak labor market just hours before President Barack Obama delivers a major address to Congress on the issue.
Applications for unemployment benefits rose to 414,000 in the week ending September 3 from an upwardly revised 412,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Wall Street analysts had been looking for a dip to 405,000.
Excluding one week in early August, claims have held above 400,000 since early April. The Labor Department said there was no discernible effect from recent hurricanes and storms on the national figures this week.
The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out volatility, rose to 414,750 from 411,000 the prior week.
Continuing claims eased to 3.72 million from 3.75 million. The number of total recipients on benefit rolls was 7.17 million.
U.S. employment growth ground to a halt in August, with zero net job creation raising fears of a new recession and putting pressure on the Federal Reserve to ease monetary policy further at its meeting later this month. (Reporting by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa; Editing by Andrea Ricci)