Seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims fell 9.9% in the week ending Jan. 12, to 335,000, according to a Labor Department report released today. This newest data represent the lowest number of weekly initial claims since January 2008, and the steepest week-to-week drop since January 2007.
This week's report helped to push the 4-week moving average to 359,250, a 1.8% decrease from the previous week's average. Both the most recent 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, 15 states experienced initial jobless claims decreases of more than 1,000 for the week ended Jan. 5 (most recent available data). Michigan (-12,536), New Jersey (-5,530), and Oregon (-5,471) experienced the largest drops, citing fewer layoffs in construction, education, and manufacturing sectors as key reasons for the improvement. New York topped the list of the 15 states seeing increases of more than 1,000 with a week-to-week jump of 37,189 claims, resulting from transportation, construction, and education layoffs.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate returned to 2.5% for the week ended Jan. 5 (most recent available data) after dropping to 2.4% the week before.