US jobless claims edge higher


Washington (AFP)

New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits rose for a second week but still remained at a low level as the jobs market tightens, official data showed Thursday.

Initial jobless claims rose by 6,000 to 278,000 in the week ending February 27, the Labor Department said. Claims had climbed by 10,000 in the prior week.

The four-week moving average fell by 1,750 to 270,250 last week. It was 305,500 a year ago.

First-time claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, have held below 300,000 for most of the past year as the labor market improves with steady job growth.

"The overall labor market remains in rude health, despite the troubles in the energy and manufacturing export sectors," said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The latest claims data comes ahead of Friday's highly anticipated February jobs report. Analysts expect the unemployment rate will remain unchanged at an eight-year low of 4.9 percent and the economy added 190,000 jobs, following 151,000 in January.