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U.S. jobless claims rise sharply, government flags seasonal factors

A woman meets with a job recruiter from a jewellery and gem company during the Gemological Institute Of America (GIA)'s Jewelry Career Fair in New York in this file photo.

SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, reversing a sharp decline in the prior week but still pointing to a labour market that is slowly healing.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 46,000 to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

The prior week's figure was revised up to show 3,000 more applications than previously reported to 342,000.

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A Labor Department official said it appeared that state-level administrative issues were distorting the data.

The government adjusts its readings for claims to take into account regular seasonal swings. Claims usually increase at the beginning of a quarter, but one state appears to be following a different pattern than normal in reporting its claims, which led to the wild fluctuations over the last couple of weeks, the official said.

The official declined to name the state, although the Labor Department said that California was the only state in the week ending October 6 to report a decrease in claims of more than 1,000.

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