WASHINGTON - WASHINGTON - New jobless claims jumped last week by the most since February, reversing the previous week's sharp decline.
The rise is partly a result of seasonal factors but also reflects a weak job market.
The sharp increase comes after claims fell steeply two weeks ago to their lowest level since August 2008. But much of that drop was driven by temporary seasonal factors and not an improving job market.
Before seasonal adjustments, claims actually fell by 13,113 to 498,022, the department said. The government seasonally adjusts most economic data to filter out the impact of recurring, noneconomic factors.
Still, new claims remain elevated - a sign jobs are scarce even as the economy slowly recovers from the worst recession since the 1930s.
"American companies . . . are just not hiring to any great extent," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.
Requests for unemployment insurance have been stuck near 450,000 since the beginning of the year, after falling steadily from a peak of 651,000 in March 2009. - AP