WASHINGTON — New applications for unemployment insurance rose last week to their highest level in almost six months, a sign that employers are still cutting their staffs.
The Labor Department says first-time claims for jobless benefits edged up by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 484,000. Analysts had expected a drop. That’s the highest total since the week of Feb. 20.
Initial claims have now risen in three of the last four weeks and are close to their high point for the year of 490,000, reached in late January. The four-week average, which smooths volatility, soared by 14,250 to 473,500, also the highest since late February.
The total number of people receiving benefits dropped 118,000 to 4.45 million, the department said.