WASHINGTON — Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits rose 20,000 to 362,000, a level above expectations for the Feb. 16 week and exactly the same as a year earlier, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Forecasts in a MNI survey of economists had centered around a rebound in jobless claims to 352,000 from the 342,000 of the previous week, which was revised upward by 1,000.

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