Data showed on Thursday, the number of U.S. workers claiming for unemployment benefits increased more than expected last week, which indicates the labor market remains fragile despite signs of economic revival.
Initial claims for state jobless insurance increased 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 531,000 in the week ended October 17 from a revised 520,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said, after declining for two consecutive weeks.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast new claims nudging up to 515,000 last week from a previously reported 514,000, Reuters reports.
It was also reported, the four-week moving average of new claims -- considered a better gauge of the labor market by smoothing out volatility in the weekly data - inched lower by 750 to reach 532,250, the lowest level since mid-January.
Claims had fallen by 34,000 in the prior two weeks.
The claims data measure the number of workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and who become eligible for unemployment benefits. They reflect layoffs, not hiring, MarketWatch reports.
As more and more unemployed Americans find themselves with expired benefits, Congress is wrestling with legislation that would extend their lifeline. The House has approved a jobless benefits extension, but the Senate has not yet voted on it.
Earlier this month, Senate Democrats introduced a bill that would extend unemployment benefits by up to 14 weeks in every state. Those living in states with unemployment levels greater than 8.5% would receive a further six weeks.
Currently, states with rates above 8% now offer up to 79 weeks of benefits. States with rates between 6% and 8% now offer up to 59 weeks, and all other states currently offer up to 46 weeks, CNNMoney.com reports.