First-time jobless claims rise unexpectedly - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

First-time jobless claims rise unexpectedly

WASHINGTON (Associated Press) - The number of newly laid-off workers filing initial claims for jobless benefits rose unexpectedly last week, evidence that layoffs are continuing and jobs remain scarce.

The rise is the fourth in the past five weeks. Most economists hoped that claims would resume a downward trend that was evident in the fall and early winter.

The Labor Department says that new claims for unemployment insurance rose by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 480,000. Wall Street economists had expected a drop to 460,000.

The four-week average, which smooths fluctuations, rose for the third straight week.

The number of people continuing to claim benefits was unchanged at 4.6 million.

The government also reports today that worker productivity rose more than expected in the October-December quarter as companies squeezed more output from their employees.

The Labor Department says productivity rose by a seasonally adjusted 6.2 percent in the fourth quarter, above analysts' expectations of a 6 percent rise.

The increase follows two quarters of sharply rising productivity.

Stock futures are pointing to a lower opening.

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