Applications for jobless benefits decreased by 29,000 for the week ending December 8, bringing the total to 343,000, down from last week’s revised figure of 372,000, the Labor Department announced on Thursday.

The four-week moving average, a “less volatile” figure, decreased by 27,000, bringing the total to 381,500, down from last week’s revised average of 408,500.

Not bad.

“The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.5 percent for the week ending December 1, unchanged from the prior week’s unrevised rate,”  the Labor Department announced.

“The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending December 1 was 3,198,000, a decrease of 23,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,221,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,270,750, a decrease of 42,250 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,313,000,” the report adds.

The states with the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending December 8 were California (+24,411), Pennsylvania (+14,636), North Carolina (+13,961), New York (+11,025), and Texas (+10,435).

Meanwhile, Kentucky (-615), Idaho (-481), Vermont (-402), Florida (-348) and Wisconsin (-91) posted the biggest decreases in initial claims.

“The department also said Tuesday that employers posted the most open jobs in four months in October. That suggests that hiring could pick up a bit in the coming months,” the Associated Press notes.

“But some companies may postpone hiring this month because of concerns over the ‘fiscal cliff, the package of tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect next year. If all the changes in the cliff take effect for a full year, economists forecast it would push the economy into recession,” the report adds.

One last note [via writers at Zero Hedge]: “Of note in the claims number was the surprising surge in those claiming Emergency Unemployment Comp, which jumped by a whopping 186K, and the stunning jump in State employees claiming benefits, which jumped by a ridiculous 480K!” U.S. Labor Department Announced Weekly Jobless Claims Tumble by 29K, Overall Figure Is 343,000That is a bit of a jump.

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