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Jobless claims rise, but labor market strengthening, say experts (+video)

Applications for unemployment benefits rose to 282,000 last week, higher than economists expected, but lower on average for the 23rd week in a row, a sign typical of a strengthening labor market.

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    In this June photo, job seekers get information at a job fair in Sunrise, Fla. The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims every week.
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The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, but the underlying trend remained consistent with a strengthening labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000 for the week ended Aug. 29, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 fewer applications received than previously reported. Economists had forecast claims rising to 275,000 last week.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the data and no states had been estimated.

The claims data has no bearing on Friday's closely watched employment report for August as it fell outside the survey period. According to a Reuters survey of economists, non-farm payrolls likely increased by 220,000 last month after rising 215,000 in July.

But job gains could come in below expectations as the first reading of August payrolls has tended to be weaker in the last several years before being revised higher.

The August employment report will be released less than two weeks before the Federal Reserve's Sept. 16-17 policy-setting meeting. There is speculation the U.S. central bank could raise interest rates at that meeting.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 3,250 to 275,500 last week.

It was the 23rd straight week that the four-week average remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is usually associated with a strengthening labor market.

Thursday's claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 9,000 to 2.26 million in the week ended Aug. 22. (Editing by Paul Simao)

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