Applications for jobless benefits increased by 10,000 for the week ending December 29, bringing the total to 372,000, up from last week’s revised figure of 362,000, the Labor Department announced on Thursday.

The four-week moving average, a “less volatile” figure, decreased by 250, bringing the total to 360,000, down from last week’s revised average of 359,750.

Unemployment offices in at least nine states were closed last week for the New Year’s holiday — so the department had to rely on estimates.

“The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.5 percent for the week ending December 22, unchanged from the prior week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending December 22 was 3,245,000, an increase of 44,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,201,000,” the report reads.

“The 4-week moving average was 3,224,250, an increase of 6,500 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,217,750,” the report adds.

The states with the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending December 22 were Ohio (+8,795), Michigan (+6,641), Pennsylvania (+5,530), Kentucky (+4,745), and Massachusetts (+4,330).

Meanwhile, California (-11,789), West Virginia (-473), Florida (-450), Arizona (-192), and South Dakota (-186) posted the biggest decreases in initial claims.

“Weekly applications … have mostly fluctuated this year between 360,000 and 390,000. At the same time, employers have added an average of 151,000 jobs a month in the first 11 months of 2012,” the Associated Press reports.

“Unemployment remains high and companies are reluctant to ramp up hiring. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in November from 7.9 percent in October mostly because many of the unemployed stopped looking for jobs. The government counts people as unemployed only if they are actively searching for work,” the report adds.

So what’s can we say about unemployment benefits in 2012?

It would seem initial claims can be summed for 2012 in one word, ‘average,’” writers at Zero Hedge not. “This last print of 2012 was almost perfectly at 2012′s average of 372, the biggest miss since the first week of November and the Sandy disturbance.”

Weekly U.S. Jobless Aid Applications Rise by 10KFollow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

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