Initial jobless claims bumped up 2.7% to 379,000 for the week ending Dec. 14, according to a Labor Department report released today. That's the highest number since March.

After jumping a revised 23% the previous week, this newest report pushed past analysts' expectations by 42,000 claims. 

Despite the second week of increases, pundits caution against examining weekly shifts too closely during the holiday season, as numbers tend to be abnormally volatile compared to other times of the year.

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Source: Author, data from Labor Department. 

However, from a more long-term perspective, a 4% increase in the four-week moving average to 345,500 initial claims continues to point to a potential upward trend. 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, only Ohio recorded a decrease of more than 1,000 initial claims (down 1,100) for the week ending Dec. 7 (most recent available data). 

For the same period, a whopping 28 states registered increases of more than 1,000 initial claims, most likely due in large part to the aforementioned holiday volatility. California claimed the top spot with 21,900 more initial claims, primarily due to service and manufacturing layoffs. New York (14,300) and Pennsylvania (14,000) followed, both citing construction and transportation layoffs as a major reason for their claims rises.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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