People Applying for Unemployment Benefits Ticks Down Ever So Slightly

Here we are again for our weekly initial claims report:

Applications for jobless benefits dropped 2,000 for the week ending Jan. 11, bringing the total to 326,000, down from last week’s revised figure of 328,000, the Labor Department announced Thursday.

Roughly 4.7 million Americans collected benefits at the end of 2013, “a figure that has declined by almost 1.2 million over the past 12 months,” the Associated Press reported.

“But that number is poised drop by another 1.35 million in upcoming reports. That’s because a special federal program expired last month,” the report adds. “The program provided aid to long-term unemployed Americans who exhausted their state benefits. Congress failed this week to renew the program introduced in 2008.”

The four-week moving average, a “less volatile” figure, decreased by 13,500, bringing the total to 335,000, down from the previous unrevised average of 348,500.

“The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3 percent for the week ending January 4, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week’s unrevised rate,” the Labor Department reported.

“The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending January 4 was 3,030,000, an increase of 174,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 2,856,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,908,750, an increase of 38,250 from the preceding week’s revised average of 2,870,500,” the report added.

The states with the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Jan. 4 were New York (+28,314), Georgia (+18,734), South Carolina (+9,632), Alabama (+6,782), and Texas (+6,638).

Meanwhile, Michigan (-17,635), New Jersey (-6,882), Massachusetts (-5,485), Ohio (-5,482), and Iowa (-4,212) posted the biggest decreases in initial claims.

Markets are poised to open slightly higher Thursday:

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This post has been updated.