Initial jobless claims jumped 5.8% to 348,000 for the week ending Jan. 25, according to a Labor Department report released today. That's an increase of 19,000 claims from the previous week.
After increasing a revised 1.2% the previous week, the latest count came in well above analyst expectations of 327,000 claims.
From a more long-term perspective, however, a slight 0.2% bump in the four-week moving average to 330,000 initial claims continues to indicate a slowly improving labor market compared to December's numbers. 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, a whopping 29 states recorded a decrease of more than 1,000 initial claims for the week ending Jan. 18 (most recent available data), indicating substantial nationwide improvement. Pennsylvania led the decrease with 16,600 fewer claims, citing fewer services, construction, and transportation layoffs.
For the same period, only California and Oregon registered increases of more than 1,000 initial claims. California pointed to services and agriculture layoffs as a primary push behind its 11,700-claim increase, while Oregon provided no comment for its bump of 1,240 claims.