Seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims rose 4.9% to 361,000 for the week ending Dec. 15, according to a Department of Labor report released today. After last week's 7.8% drop and a full month of declines following a revised 25% spike attributed to Hurricane Sandy, the newest numbers showing a week-to-week increase of 17,000 initial claims perhaps signal an unwelcome speed bump in the labor market's recovery.
In more positive news, the four-week moving average dipped 3.6% to 367,750 initial jobless claims. Both this week's number and the four-week moving average fell solidly below 400,000, a cut-off point that economists consider a sign of an improving labor market.
On a state-by-state basis, California's initial claims jumped 5,950 for the week ended Dec. 8 (most recent available data), due mostly to layoffs in the service and manufacturing sectors. New York and Pennsylvania each recorded more than 11,000 fewer initial claims, citing fewer layoffs in the transportation, construction, and food service industries, among others.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate continues to hover at 2.5% for the week ending Dec. 8 (most recent data available), relatively unchanged since October.