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New unemployment claims surge to 412,000

By Hibah Yousuf, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, a sign that the job market's road to recovery remains bumpy.

The number of initial claims increased to 412,000 in the week ended Apr. 9, up 27,000 from the week before, the Labor Department said Thursday. The figure was the highest in two months and surprised economists, who were expecting 385,000 new claims.

The spike disrupted the downhill move in jobless claims, which had been coming in below the 400,000-mark for four consecutive weeks.

"Given the underlying downward trend, we are inclined to see it as a one-time fluke," said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

Shepherdson added that the Labor Department cited unusually large layoffs at the end of the quarter as a factor pushing claims higher.

Still, the 4-week moving average of initial filings-- a number that tries to smooth out week-to-week volatility -- remained below that threshold at 395,750, up 5,500 from the previous week.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans filing for ongoing claims decreased 58,000 to 3,680,000 in the week ended Apr .2, the latest data available. That's the lowest figure since September 2008, and below economists' estimates for 3,700,000 continuing claims.

Ongoing claims reflect people who file each week after their initial claim until the end of their standard benefits, usually after 26 weeks.

The 4-week moving average for ongoing claims fell by 20,750 to 3,728,750.

The trend remains consistent with the overall improvement in the labor market. The unemployment rate fell for a fourth straight month in March to 8.8%, the lowest since March 2009, as the economy gained 216,000 jobs. To top of page

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