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U.S. applications for jobless benefits jump 26,000

U.S. applications for jobless benefits jump 26,000 (by Jeffry Bartash)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - New applications for state jobless benefits jumped by 26,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 397,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected first-time claims to rise to a seasonally adjusted 378,000 from last week's upwardly revised level of 371,000. Over the past four weeks claims have averaged 392,500, putting them near a three-year low. The four-week average is considered more accurate barometer of employment trends because it lessens week-to-week volatility in the data. Meanwhile, the number of workers who continue to receive state compensation decreased by 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.77 million in the week of Feb. 26. Some 4.3 million people received extended federal benefits in the week ended Feb. 19, down more than 200,000 from the week before. Altogether, 8.77 million people received some kind of state or federal benefit in the week of Feb. 19, down 463,351 from the prior week.