Initial jobless claims increased 2.9% to 354,000 for the week ending May 25, according to a Labor Department report released today.
After dropping a revised 5.2% the previous week, analysts had expected initial jobless claims to remain steady at an unrevised 340,000. After initial claims hit an unrevised record low for the recovery in the week ending May 4, these newest numbers suggest that a sustainable downward trend isn't here to stay.
The four-week moving average also increased in the latest week, up 2% to 347,250. Although both the latest week's claims and the four-week average increased, each number clocks in solidly below 400,000, a cutoff point that economists consider a sign of an improving labor market.
On a state-by-state basis, three states recorded decreases of more than 1,000 initial claims for the week ended May 18 (most recent available data). Fewer service layoffs dropped California's initial claims a whopping 16,330, while Georgia and Illinois experienced decreases of 1,800 and 1,200 in initial claims, respectively. For the same week, South Carolina and Tennessee registered increases of more than 1,000. Manufacturing layoffs were the primary reason for South Carolina's 1,260-initial-claims increase, while administrative and support service layoffs helped push Tennessee's initial claims up 1,190.