The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose last week to 516,000, the highest level since the weeks following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Labor Department reported on Thursday.
The figure outstripped forecasts, with analysts polled by Reuters expecting initial claims to be only 484,000. The claims were last at this high a level in the week ended September 29, 2001, when they were 517,000, reported Reuters.
A department official said there were no special factors contributing to the spike in claims, but noted that jobless claims often rise as the year winds down.
A four-week moving average of claims, which smoothes out weekly variations, was 491,000, the largest since March 1991.
Continuing claims reached 3.897 million for the week ended November 1, the latest period for which data were available, which was an increase from 3.832 million the prior week and marked the most people filing for ongoing unemployment assistance in a quarter of a century.