Initial jobless claims rose 2.8% to 372,000 for the week ended Dec. 29, according to a Department of Labor report released today . After last week's revised flatline and the preceding week's revised 5.2% increase, December was a rough month for the labor market.
The four-week moving average squeaked up 250 to 360,000, reversing its month-long decline. Despite the increases, 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, 21 states experienced initial jobless claims increases of more than 1,000 for the week ended Dec. 22 (most recent available data). Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania all recorded more than 5,000 more claims than the previous week, citing automobile, manufacturing, and entertainment industries as some of the biggest layoffs. California's initial claims dropped by a whopping 11,800, due to a stronger overall jobs market and significantly fewer layoffs in the service industry.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate continues to hover at 2.5% for the week ended Dec. 22 (most recent data available), relatively unchanged since October.