OPIOID SERIES:

First-time jobless claims hit highest level in two months

First-time claims for jobless benefits hit a two-month high last week but remained near pre-recession levels.

The number filing for unemployment insurance jumped 11,000 to 315,000 during the Labor Day holiday week, the highest level since the end of June, the Labor Department said Thursday.

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Many economists have argued that underlying labor market growth remains strong with only temporary blips, like federal holidays, where data is harder to adjust, muddying up the numbers.

The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure, increased to 304,000 from 303,250 the week before, a sign that businesses are holding back on layoffs.

In August, employers added 142,000 workers to their payrolls, a disappointing drop after six months of growth, a separate Labor Department report showed last week. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent.

Still, a full recovery is labor market is about two years away. 

While the labor market has shown gradual signs of improvement, Americans have been wary to spend more with wages remaining stagnant. 

Job growth must continue to at steady pace to help create more demand and, in turn, push employers to raise wages.