) -- The number of newly jobless applying for state unemployment benefits for the first time spiked up last week, a further indication that the road to recovery in the labor market remains a bumpy one.
Initial claims rose to a seasonally adjusted 473,000 for the week ending Feb. 13, according to a Labor Department statement issued Thursday, marking an increase of 31,000 since the week prior. The Wall Street consensus projected that initial claims would fall to 438,000 from the previous week's pre-revised 440,000 total, according to figures provided by Briefing.com.
But the four-week moving average for initial claims, which tends to level out extreme fluctuations throughout the month, fell by 1,500 to 467,500.
The number of those continuing to file state benefit claims held steady at 4.56 million.
Despite renewed White House focus on the unemployment picture, jobs creation remains elusive. Just this week, health insurer
said it would
cut some 1400 jobs. In its fourth-quarter earnings report Tuesday,
announced the first phase of restructuring in the wake of its Schering-Plough merger that will pare down 15% of its global workforce by 2012.
--Written by Sung Moss in New York