Jobless claims unexpectedly jumped higher last week by 49,000 to 252,000.
The sudden rise in initial claims for state unemployment follows a steep fall the week prior to 203,000. That figure remained unchanged in this week’s release from the Department of Labor.
Jobless claims can be volatile during the holiday season. The spike this week is likely due to Thanksgiving falling later in the year than usual rather than a big jump in layoffs.
Economists had been expecting a smaller rise to a range of 210,000 to 235,000. This week’s number is the highest in 2 years.2
To smooth out the week-to-week volatility, economists look to the four-week average of new claims. This rose by 6,250 to 224,000.
The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits beyond the initial week fell by 31,000 to 1.67 million.