Weekly jobless claims rose by a whopping 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 287,000 for the week ended Dec.26, the U.S. Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 270,000 in the latest week, offering analysts a signal the labor market lost steam last month.
Though claims rose by the largest number since July, it is still coming off a 42-year low. Still, the number of jobless claims is impacted by the number of eligible applicants and, with long-term unemployment chronic, the untold story is just how few those eligible applicants are at this point. The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose 3,000 to 2.20 million in the week ended Dec. 19.
The 4-week moving averag–widely considered to be a better gauge of conditions, as it irons-out week-to-week volatility–was 2,220,250, an gain of 9,250 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 2,211,000.
Labor Department said there were no special factors influencing the numbers.
The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending December 12 were in Alaska (4.8), Puerto Rico (2.9), Montana (2.8), New Jersey (2.7), Pennsylvania (2.7), West Virginia (2.6), California (2.5), Illinois (2.4), Wyoming (2.4), Connecticut (2.3), and Nevada (2.3).
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending December 19 were in Virginia (+2,047), Illinois (+1,954), Iowa (+1,128), Kentucky (+1,116), and Kansas (+1,076), while the largest decreases were in California (-2,903), Michigan (-2,586), Pennsylvania (-1,280), Texas (-1,152), and New York (-1,119).