WASHINGTON -- First-time jobless claims surged last week to a two-month high after plunging to near a six-year low the previous week, highlighting the volatility of the data during the holiday season, the Labor Department said Thursday.
About 368,000 people filed for initial unemployment benefits in the week ending Saturday, up from a revised 300,000 in the previous week.
Economists believed the earlier figure was artificially low because of the Thanksgiving holiday that week. The initial report of 298,000 claims in the week ended Nov. 30 was only the second time since early 2007 that the number was below 300,000.
But last week's increase exceeded economist forecasts of a rise to about 325,000. The number of claims last week was the highest since the week ended Oct. 5.
Claims often surge in the week after Thanksgiving, in part because the holiday falls on a different day each year and makes seasonal adjustments difficult, the Labor Department said.
The four-week average, considered a better gauge, was 328,750 last week, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week.