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Sharp rise noted in jobless benefits

The number of new claims for jobless benefits jumped by 8,000 last week, rising above 310,000 for the first time in six weeks but remaining at a level reflecting a tight labor market.

New applications for unemployment insurance totaled a seasonally adjusted 315,000, highest since 325,000 during the week ended Aug. 30, the Labor Department reported today.Many analysts had expected an increase of just 3,000. The jump was the steepest since a 22,000 gain in mid-August.

Until last week, claims had remained below 310,000 for five straight weeks, the longest such stretch since 1988. Still, analysts contend a level below 320,000 is consistent with tight employment.

So far, the taut job market has not raised inflation pressures. Analysts are concerned, however, that worker shortages eventually could spark demands for higher wages.