WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The number of people who applied for new unemployment benefits jumped 28,000 to a four-month high of 385,000 in the week ended March 30, the Labor Department said Thursday, but much of the increase likely reflects seasonal quirks related to the Easter holiday and spring break.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had predicted claims would fall to 350,000 from an unrevised 357,000 in the prior week. The raw claims numbers were virtually identical for both weeks, however, suggesting that the government's seasonal-adjustment process exaggerated the increase. Still, the spike in claims adds to other recent reports suggesting that the pace of hiring in the U.S. has slowed. Meanwhile, the average of new claims in the last four weeks rose by 11,250 to 354,250 to mark a one-month high..