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Weekly jobless claims higher than expected

First-time unemployment insurance claims rose more than expected last week despite other signs of healing in the labor market, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The first claims for the week ended April 3 totaled 744,000, well above the expectations of 694,000 economists polled by Dow Jones. The total represented an increase of 16,000 from the revised upward 728,000 of the previous week.

The news comes a week after a sign of a more aggressive recovery in the labor market, as non-farm payrolls in March rose 916,000 as the unemployment rate fell to 6%.

It was the biggest job gain since August 2020, although unemployment remains well above the pre-pandemic low of 3.5%.

Continuing claims provided good news on the labor front, with the total falling from 16,000 to 3.73 million. This is the lowest level of continuing claims since March 21, 2020, just after the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and companies have instituted wholesale layoffs in conjunction with the economic shutdown. Ongoing claims run a week behind the weekly headline number.

A year ago, that total was only 3.44 million, but jumped soon after due to massive layoffs in late March and early April.

This is the latest news. Please come back here for updates.

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