WASHINGTON (3/6/15)--Initial jobless claims jumped by 7,000 for the week ending Feb. 28 to 320,000, pushing claims to their highest level since May of last year, according to numbers released Thursday by the Employment and Training Administration (Economy.com March 5).
The increase, the fourth in the past five weeks, nudged the four-week moving average up by 10,250 to 304,750, its highest since mid-January.
"For now, we are not reading too much into the recent rise because new filings are notoriously volatile around holidays including Presidents' Day," said Ryan Sweet, Moody's analyst (Economy.com), adding that while initial claims have been above 300,000 every week this year but three, sub-300,000 initial claims are rare.
Continuing claims continue to waver, climbing by 17,000 to 2.422 million for the week ending Feb. 21 after a decrease of 18,000 the prior week. Continuing claims track those who file for unemployment benefits for at least a second straight week.
The four-week moving average for continuing claims was largely unchanged. Further, the insured unemployment rate remained at 1.8%, which is down 0.4% year-over-year.
"All told, initial and continuing claims suggest the job market has taken a small step back in late February, but this is likely attributable to temporary factors, including the weather or strikes," Sweet said.
Massachusetts, Kentucky, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio posted the highest increases in initial filings, while California and New York each experienced declines in new filings.