Initial jobless claims barely budged for the week ending Jan. 18, edging up 0.3% to 326,000, according to a Labor Department report released today.
After claims fell a revised 0.9% the previous week, this newest report with just 1,000 more claims than the previous week snuck in under analyst expectations for 330,000 claims.
From a more long-term perspective, a 1.1% decrease in the four-week moving average to 331,500 initial claims marks the third decline in three weeks. Both the latest week's claims and the four-week average fall significantly below 400,000, a cutoff point that economists consider a sign of an improving labor market.
On a state-by-state basis, eight states recorded a decrease of more than 1,000 initial claims for the week ending Jan. 11 (the most recent available data). New York's 18,020-drop in initial claims was by far the best. The Empire State cited fewer transportation and warehousing layoffs as the primary reason for its improvement.
For the same period, 22 states registered increases of more than 1,000 initial claims. Texas did not provide a comment for its 12,800 increase, while California pointed to agriculture layoffs as a main push behind its jump of 8,320 initial claims.