WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US jobless claims rose by 14 percent to 419,000 last week, according to Labour Department data on Thursday that suggested a continued challenge for the fragile labour market recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"In the week ending 17 July, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 419,000, an increase of 51,000 from the previous week's revised level", the Labour Department said in a statement.
Economists polled by US media had anticipated 350,000 jobless claims filings for the week hat ended on 17 July.
"It certainly is disappointing to have the jobless claims move higher, and back above the 400,000 level", economist Greg Michalowski said in a post on ForexLive. "As a result, it puts a negative initial spin for that number."
Continuing claims for the week that ended on 26 June - reported with a one-week lag - was at 3.24 million versus the 3.27 million reading for the week to 10 July.
The modest change in continuing claims left the weekly reading for unemployment unchanged at 2.4 percent.
More than a year into the coronavirus crisis, restoring job growth remains one of the main concerns of US policy makers.
The Labor Department said there were only 850,000 job additions for June. But as a whole, the United States lost more than 21 million jobs between March and April 2020, at the height of business lockdowns forced by the coronavirus measures. More than 7 million of those jobs have yet to return, officials say.
The US economy itself shrank 3.5 percent in 2020, although first quarter data for 2021 showed a dynamic rebound of 6.4 percent.
The Federal Reserve has forecast a 6.5 percent economic growth for all of 2021 although Jerome Powell, chairman of the central bank, says he does not expect "full employment" - defined by a monthly unemployment rate of 4 percent or lower - to occur anytime soon. The monthly unemployment rate stood at 5.9 percent in June.