At the same time, the number of layoffs in companies decreased in March.
US initial jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week, although the labor market recovery is picking up steam as economic activity picks up thanks to an increase in the number of vaccinated citizens and massive fiscal stimulus.
This is confirmed by other data released on Thursday, showing that the number of job losses in March was the lowest in 2.5 years. Initial call data is skewed by processing delays and fraud, making it difficult to get a clear picture of the labor market from weekly data.
The Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims rose 61,000 last week to 719,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. Data for the previous week was revised to be 26,000 less than previously reported, bringing the total number of applications filed down to 658,000.
This is the lowest since mid-March 2020 when quarantine measures were introduced in many states.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 680,000 filings in the past week. The largest increase was recorded in the state of Virginia. It also saw significant growth in California, Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, and New York.
Challenger, Gray & Christmas, meanwhile, said Thursday that planned layoffs at U.S. companies fell 11 percent in March to 30,603, the lowest since July 2018. In the first quarter, planned layoffs were down 35 percent from the October-December period. Last quarter, 144,686 people were laid off, the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2019.
American stock exchanges opened higher on Thursday. The dollar fell against a basket of currencies. Treasury bond prices rose.