WASHINGTON (AP) _ The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose for the second week in a row last week to its highest level in more than a month.
The Labor Department said today that 313,000 Americans filed new claims for jobless benefits for the week ending July 17 _ up by 4,000 from the previous week.
It was the second consecutive increase in weekly jobless claims after two back-to-back declines and left the claims at their highest point since June 5 when they were at 326,000.
The four-week moving average for claims, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, also was up, to 305,500. That was the highest level since June 26 when it was at 307,250.
Last week’s increase was a little higher than many economists had been expecting, but still kept claims at a level indicating that the nation’s job market remains exceptionally healthy.
For the month of June, the nation’s unemployment rate crept up to 4.3 percent, still near a 29-year low. Even with the increase in the jobless rate the nation’s businesses added a sizeable 268,000 new jobs to their payrolls.
The Labor Department said today that for the week ending July 10, 40 states and territories reported increases in jobless claims, while 11 had decreases. The state data lag a week behind the national figures.
The state with the biggest increase in applications for jobless benefits was Michigan, up 19,355, an increase officials blamed on layoffs in the automobile industry as companies prepare for new models.
Other states with large increases were: New York, up 8,756; Indiana, up 8,072; Kentucky, up 5,933; and North Carolina, up 3,746.
The state with the biggest decrease was California, down, 6,093, a decrease officials attributed to fewer layoffs in the service industry.
Other states with big decreases were: Missouri, down 2,941; Massachusetts, down 2,655; New Jersey, down 2,630; and Maine, down 896.