Jobless Claims Jump 11.5%

Seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims jumped 11.5% to 368,000 for the week ending Jan. 26, according to a Labor Department report released today. This comes after the number fell to five-year lows in the previous two weeks. Market analysts had expected a 6% rise to 350,000 new claims.

Source: Author, data from Labor Department.

After a large 9.9% drop two weeks ago and this week's jump or 38,000 claims, the four-week moving average helps to parse out volatility to focus on longer-term trends. With just the slightest 250 increase to 352,000 initial claims in the latest four-week moving average, both this most recent week's report and the four-week moving average still fall solidly below 400,000, a cut-off point that economists consider a sign of an improving labor market.

On a state-by-state basis, 24 states experienced initial jobless claims decreases of more than 1,000 for the week ending Jan. 19 (most recent available data). Pennsylvania (-12,600), Texas (-10,500), and North Carolina (-9,300) reported the largest drops, citing fewer layoffs in construction, textile, and professional industries as key reasons for the improvement.

Only Florida recorded a significant increase in new claims in that week. Layoffs in construction, services, and manufacturing industries contributed to a 1,160 initial claims increase in the Sunshine State.

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