Jobless claims up 12% in past 2 weeks

The number of Americans filing for initial unemployment insurance surged to just below the 500,000 level last week, and have climbed more than 12% over the past two weeks, the government said Thursday.

There were 496,000 initial job claims filed in the week ended Feb. 20, up 22,000 from a revised 474,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said in a weekly report. The prior week, there were 442,000 claims filed.

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A consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected new claims to fall to 460,000.

The government said 4,617,000 people filed continuing claims in the week ended Feb. 13, the most recent data available. That’s up 6,000 from the preceding week’s revised 4,596,500 claims

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