Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) — Applications for unemployment benefits rose more than forecast last week, interrupting a steady decline to pre-recession lows.

Jobless claims climbed by 21,000 to 311,000 in the period ended Aug. 9, the highest in six weeks, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 295,000. There was nothing unusual in the data and no states were estimated, a spokesman said as the figures were released.

The jump represents a departure from a run of low readings that showed employers had been holding firm on staffing levels in order to keep up with demand. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is among policy makers who remain concerned that pockets of slack in the job market, including stagnant wages and elevated numbers of long-term unemployed workers, continue to hold back the world's largest economy.

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