Jobless claims increased unexpectedly last week by 4000 to 371,000 for the week ended January 5.
The median forecast by economists looked for a drop to 365,000 and the prior week’s numbers were revised to 367,000 from an initially reported 372,000.
The increase shows improvement in the labor market remains uneven and is being blamed on failed fiscal cliff negotiations.
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The weekly initial jobless claims reports actually measure firings. The numbers decline as more new jobs are created.
Consistently fewer firings along with consistent job growth are the two ingredients that will lead to faster economic growth.
The report also shows the number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits. The January 10 report reflected the highest number since January 2011.
It does not reflect the number of people receiving extended benefits under federal programs.
week ended December 29, the lowest drop since July 2008.
Thirty states and territories saw claims increase while 23 saw them decline. The data reported lag by one week.