(By Balaseshan) The number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits rose more than forecast, a government data showed, pointing to an uneven improvement in the labor market.
Jobless claims increased 4,000 to 371,000 last week from the previous week's revised figure of 367,000, while economists projected a decline to 365,000 applications.
Claims are known for being volatile at this time of the year due to the holidays and seasonal layoffs.
The four-week moving average for claims - a less volatile measure than the weekly figures - increased 6,750 to 365,750 last week, a data from the Labor Department showed.
The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending December 29 fell 127,000 to 3.109 million, while economists projected a decline to 3.230 million. The 4-week moving average was about 3.197 million, down 26,000 from the preceding week's revised average of 3.223 million.
[Related -Four Stocks in the Dow Making Fresh 52 Week Lows]
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.4% for the week ending December 29, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week's unrevised rate.
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 552,043 in the week ending January 5, an increase of 61,944 from the previous week.
The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.9% during the week ending December 29, a rise of 0.3 percentage point from the prior week's unrevised rate. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs rose 375,371 to 3.659 million from the preceding week.
[Related -Some Thoughts on Greece’s Don’t-Call-It-a-Default]
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending December 29 were in Michigan (up 15,107), Pennsylvania (up 12,483), Wisconsin (up 6,748), New Jersey (up 3,436), and Missouri (up 3,057), while the largest decreases were in Florida (down 11,015), Texas (down 7,475), Virginia (down 3,148), Illinois (down 2,755), and Oklahoma (down 1,782).