Jobless claims in U.S. increase to highest level since June

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(Bloomberg)— The most Americans since June filed for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, indicating a possible pause in progress in the labor market.

Jobless claims increased by 17,000 to 268,000 in the week ended Nov. 26, seasonally adjusted Labor Department figures showed Thursday in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for 253,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, was little changed at 251,500.

Friday’s employment report from the Labor Department will give a more complete picture of hiring in November, with payroll gains projected to have picked up from the previous month’s pace. With the Thanksgiving holiday resulting in a shortened workweek, unadjusted claims were down about 37,000, less than the department factored in for seasonal effects.

Even with the latest rise, the pace of seasonally adjusted filings is still close to the 2016 average of about 263,000.

Jobless claims have been below 300,000 for 91 straight weeks — the longest streak since 1970 and a level typical for a healthy labor market. At the same time, other factors that have pushed claims down in recent years, including cuts in the duration of benefits and changes to claim-filing technology.

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 245,000 to 265,000. The prior week’s reading was unrevised at 251,000.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits increased by 38,000 to 2.08 million in the week ended Nov. 19. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.5 percent. These data are reported with a one-week lag.

No states had estimated claims last week and there was nothing unusual in the data, according to the Labor Department.

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