WASHINGTON, Oct 25 (Reuters) The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless aid fell by a much fewer than expected 8,000 last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday, which left claims at fairly high levels.
Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits totalled 331,000 in the week ended Oct. 20 following the prior week's upwardly revised 339,000, which had previously been reported as 337,000. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast a much lower total of 320,000 claims for last week.
A Labor Department official said there were no special factors to explain last week's numbers, but noted that there might be some volatility in the data due to layoffs and re-hiring in the automobile industry linked to recent industrial action.
Michigan reported 5,720 layoffs in the automobile industry while Ohio had 2,523 layoffs in autos, while both Kentucky and Virginia reported fewer auto layoffs.
The number of so-called continuing claims rose by a modest 7,000 to 2.53 million in the week ended Oct. 13, the latest period for which figures are available. The continuing claims total was lower than economists' forecasts for 2.54 million claims.
The four-week average of weekly claims, which helps smooth out fluctuations to expose the underlying jobs trend, increased to 324,750 last week from 317,000.
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