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Unemployment claims take unexpected jump

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WASHINGTON — First-time jobless claims unexpectedly rose to 354,000 last week, but the four-week average remained in the range of moderate labor market growth.

The number of people filing for initial unemployment benefits in the week ending Saturday was up 10,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised figure of 344,000, the Labor Department said.

Analysts had expecting about 340,000 first-time claims, the same figure as initially reported last week.

The four-week average, which smooths out weekly variations, rose to 347,250 last week. That was up 6,750 from the previous week, but still below the 350,000 level that economists say is consistent with a moderately growing jobs market.

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