People line up outside a newly reopened career center for in-person appointments in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 15, 2021.

Amira Karaoud | Reuters

Initial filings for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose last week, a possible hint that the rapid job growth seen the first half of 2021 could face hurdles in the months ahead, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

First-time jobless claims totaled 373,000 for the week ended July 3, compared with the 350,000 Dow Jones estimate. The previous week’s level was revised up by 7,000 from 364,000 to 371,000.

The level of continuing claims decreased to 3.34 million, down 145,000 from the previous week’s revised level. Despite the uptick in first-time applicants, the decreased number of continuing claims represented the lowest level for insured unemployment since March 2020.

The four-week moving average for continuing claims, which smooths weekly volatility, fell by 44,500 to 3.44 million, also the lowest since March 2020.

The report less than a week after the government published its much-anticipated June 2021 jobs report, the latest iteration in its monthly updates on the broader U.S. labor market. Though nonfarm employers added a better-than-expected 850,000 last month, the jobs report showed that the U.S. unemployment rate ticked higher to 5.9% compared with the 5.6% estimate.

The total of those receiving benefits through all programs fell by 449,642 to 14.2 million, according to data that runs two weeks behind.

This is breaking news. Please check back here for updates.

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