Washington: New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits jumped last week, breaking out of a five-week stretch of modestly low numbers, the US Labor Department said Thursday.
But analysts downplayed any significance to the increase, with the weekly numbers often volatile.
New claims, which indicate the pace of layoffs, rose to 348,000 in the week to January 25, up 19,000 from the previous week`s revised figure of 329,000.
The four-week moving average rose slightly to 333,000.
In addition to some possible distortionary effect from the holidays during the period, "the weekly data can be less reliable than usual at this time of year because of big swings before seasonal adjustment," said Jim O`Sullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics.
He said the recent claims data, running consistently below last year`s weekly average of 343,000, has backed up a general picture of strengthening in the job market.