WASHINGTON — Initial jobless claims increased 12,000 to a nine-month high of 500,000 in the week ended Aug. 14, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Continuing claims fell to 4.478 million in the week ending Aug. 7 — the lowest level since June. Economists expected 476,000 initial claims and 4.5 million continuing claims. The four-week moving average for initial claims increased to 482,500, the highest level since December.

Claims for the week ending Aug. 7 were revised upward to 488,000 from the originally reported 484,000. Continuing claims for the week ending July 31 were revised to 4.491 million from 4.452 million.

The 500,000 new filings for unemployment benefits was the highest level since 509,000 initial jobless claims were recorded got the week ending Nov. 13.

"Although new claims are still much lower than they were a year ago, they are still relatively high and are no longer trending lower," Steven Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics, said in a research note. "Layoffs remain high and hiring is still" weak.

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