The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week and the number staying on the rolls after collecting an initial week of aid also edged higher, government data on Thursday showed.
Initial claims for state unemployment insurance increased by 15,000 to a greater-than-expected seasonally adjusted 627,000 from a revised 612,000 the week before, the Labor Department said. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast claims to drop to 600,000 from a previously reported 608,000.
Continued claims, which measures people still on jobless aid after an initial week of benefits, increased by 29,000 to 6.738 million in the week ending June 13, the latest for which data is available.
A Labor Department official said a variety of states had reported more claims than anticipated from the educational services sector, which appeared to be linked to the end of the school year.
A number of U.S. states have severe budget deficits because the recession has hurt revenue, and may not be renewing contracts for teachers and support staff. Teachers without a contract at the end of the school year may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits.
In another important gauge of labor market health, the 4-week moving average for new claims nudged to 617,250 from 616,750 the previous week. This is closely watched because it irons out weekly volatility.
(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio and Padraic Cassidy)