Seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims dropped 1.5% to 330,000 for the week ending Jan. 19, according to a Labor Department report released today. After a 9.9% drop the previous week, this report pushes claims to a new five-year low. Claims this low have not been seen since late January of 2008.
This week's report helped push the four-week moving average to 351,750, a 2.3% 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, 12 states experienced initial jobless claims decreases of more than 1,000 for the week ended Jan. 12 (most recent available data). New York (-27,500), Georgia (-7,500), and North Carolina (-5,500) experienced the largest drops, citing fewer layoffs in transportation, construction, manufacturing, and the textile business as key reasons for the improvement. Fourteen states registered increases of more than 1,000. Both Texas and California received more than 10,000 additional claims compared to the previous week. Texas did not comment on causes, while California listed service and agriculture layoffs among the main reasons.
As claims fell, the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate remained at 2.5% for the week ended Jan. 12 (most recent available data).