U.S. stock exchange traded funds (ETFs) were lower Thursday after the Labor Department said jobless claims unexpectedly rose above 400,000 in the latest week.

The data surprise raised questions about the health of the employment market.

However, figures earlier this week suggest the private sector is showing signs of expansion as more companies are adding new employees to their ranks.

On Wednesday, the Labor Department revealed that U.S. companies wanted to add an additional 3.1 million jobs in February, the highest number of advertised jobs since September 2008, the AP reported.

However, the department also stated that on average 4.4 people competed for each available job in February, which is above the ideal 2 to 1 ratio for a healthy economy.

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