A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed an unexpected increase in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended July 17th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims climbed to 419,000, an increase of 51,000 from the previous week's revised level of 368,000.

The rebound surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to edge down to 350,000 from the 360,000 originally reported for the previous week.

"While we expect labor market conditions to improve over the rest of 2021, the bump up in claims is a reminder that progress won't follow a straight line," said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead Economist at Oxford Economics.

The report showed the less volatile four-week moving average also crept up to 385,250, an increase of 750 from the previous week's revised average of 384,500.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, fell by 29,000 to 3.236 million in the week ended July 10th.

With the decrease, continuing claims dropped to their lowest level since hitting 3.094 million in the week ended March 21, 2020.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims also slid to a more than one-year low, falling by 44,000 to 3.338 million from the previous week's revised average of 3.382 million.

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