WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week jumped by 15,000 to 258,000 and matched a two-month high, with fresh revisions showing layoffs a bit higher in the past few years than previously reported.
Economists polled by MarketWatch has expected initial jobless claims to total 240,000 in the seven days stretching from March 12 to March 18.
The government updated jobless claims going back five years as it does annually to take into account more accurate seasonal adjustments. The new figures show layoffs are still extremely low but a bit higher than previously reported.
Consider the week ended Jan. 14. At the time the government said new claims totaled 237,000. Revised figures show that new filings actually reached 271,000.
That was one of the largest weekly changes, though. Most were a lot smaller, so the trend in claims was not significantly altered.
The more stable four-week average of initial claims, for example, rose by 1,000 last week to 240,000. That figure is now about 3,000 higher than it was before benchmark revisions.
Other changes revealed by the benchmark revisions include a new postrecession low for initial jobless claims and a shorter span in which new claims have been under the key 300,000 threshold.
New jobless claims bottomed out at 210,000 in the week of Feb. 25 — marking the lowest level since Dec. 6, 1969.
And new claims have been below the key 300,000 threshold for just 80 weeks, compared to 107 under the older seasonal-adjustment process. That’s still the longest stretch since the early 1970s, though.
Continuing jobless claims, meanwhile, fell 39,000 to 2 million in the week ended March 11. These claims, reported with a one-week delay, reflect the number of people already collecting unemployment checks.