Seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims jumped 5.8% to 362,000 for the week ending Feb. 16, according to a Labor Department report released today. After dropping a revised 7.1% the previous week, economists had expected a 5% increase, but approximations resulting from a four-day work week made exact estimates more difficult.
The new data also pushed the four-week moving average up 2.3% to 360,750 initial claims. Despite the increases, both the most recent week's number and the moving average fell solidly below 400,000, a cutoff point that economists consider a sign of an improving labor market.
On a state-by-state basis, 10 states registered decreases of more than 1,000 in their initial jobless claims for the week ending Feb. 9. California and New York recorded the largest dips (4,830 and 4,400, respectively), citing fewer layoffs in agriculture, forestry, transportation, and construction as main reasons. Kansas was the only state to record an increase in claims of more than 1,000, with 2,340 new initial claims originating primarily from across-the-board layoffs in transportation manufacturing.
For the week ending Feb. 16, the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate remained at the previous week's 2.4% rate.