Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped 46,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the highest in four months. The increase represents a rebound from the previous week’s sharp drop. Both swings were largely due to technical factors.
The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose slightly to 365,500, the Labor Department said Thursday. That is still a level consistent with modest hiring.
A department spokesman said the seasonally adjusted numbers “are being distorted … by an issue of timing.”
Normally, many applicants delay filing for benefits until the start of a quarter because doing so can produce larger checks. It turns out that California didn’t experience the expected jump in applications until the second week of this quarter. That shift had the effect of sharply lowering the seasonally adjusted number two weeks ago and sharply boosting it last week.