(Reuters) – The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose less than expected last week, but the data continues to be influenced by distortions from seasonal auto shutdowns.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 365,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 357,000 from the previously reported 353,000.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 370,000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, fell 2,750 to 365,500, the lowest in four months.
Temporary plant shutdowns by automakers for annual retooling cause wide swings in claims data in July, which makes it difficult to get a clear picture of the labor market’s health.
The model used by the government to smooth the numbers for typical seasonal patterns has trouble anticipating the timing of the temporary closures and in addition, some automakers kept production lines running in July.
A Labor Department official said last week was the last where the seasonal expectation was shaped by seasonal layoffs in the auto manufacturing sector.