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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits surprisingly rose last week to their highest level since January in a sign an anticipated recovery in labor markets may take time, a government report showed on Thursday.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits jumped 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 429,000, up from a slightly upwardly revised 404,000 the preceding week, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters were expecting claims to slip to 392,000 from the previously reported 403,000.
Jobless claims below 400,000 are associated with steady job growth.
The four week moving average, a better measure of underlying trends, climbed to 408,500 from 399,250 in the previous week. It was the highest for the four-week average since February.
The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid tumbled a more-than-expected 68,000 in the week ended April 16 to 3.64 million, the lowest level since September, 2008. Analysts anticipated a drop in continued claims to 3.68 million.
Reporting by Mark Felsenthal, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama