The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week. Initial claims jumped 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000 for the week ended Jan. 9, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday.
Despite the increase, the level of claims still reflects strong labor market conditions. Last week was the 45th consecutive week that new claims for state unemployment benefits stayed below the 300,000 mark – an indicator of a healthy jobs market, Reuters reported. It’s the longest such stretch since the early 1970s.
The Labor Department said there were “no special factors” influencing this week’s initial claims.
Economists polled by Reuters said the increase in new claims likely reflects volatility rather than a change in labor market conditions, since the data is difficult to adjust during the holidays. The week of Christmas last year saw a spike of 20,000 new initial claims to a seasonally adjusted 287,000 – the highest total since July – which might have reflected the volatile holiday period.
The Labor department said Thursday the four-week moving average of new claims rose 3,000 to 278,750 last week. Those numbers are considered a better measure of labor market trends, since they strip out the week-to-week volatility of claims filings, according to Reuters.