Bob Willis
Bloomberg
March 10, 2011

First-time claims for jobless benefits rose last week from an almost three-year low, highlighting the uneven nature of the improvement in the U.S. labor market.

Applications for first-time unemployment benefits increased by 26,000 to 397,000 in the week ended March 5, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast claims would climb to 376,000, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The total number of people receiving benefits in the prior week fell to the lowest since October 2008.

The rebound in the world’s largest economy has curbed firings, paving the way for employers such as Boeing Co. (BA) and Home Depot Inc. (HD) to add jobs and spur household spending. A Labor Department official said claims generally rise the week after a federal holiday and some New England states reported more claims due to school holidays.

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