Applications for jobless benefits increased 19,000 for the week ending Jan. 25, bringing the total to 348,000, up from last week’s revised figure of 329,000, the Labor Department announced Thursday.
The four-week moving average, a “less volatile” figure, increased by 750, bringing the total to 333,000, down from the previous unrevised average of 332,250.
“The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3 percent for the week ending January 18, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate,” the Labor report reads.
“The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending January 18 was 2,991,000, a decrease of 16,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,007,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,970,250, an increase of 43,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 2,926,750,” it adds.
The states with the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending January 18 were California (+11,708), Oregon (+1,239), Rhode Island (+304), and Virgin Islands (+7).
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania (-16,595), Indiana (-10,740), Texas (-8,789), Georgia (-8,119), and Massachusetts (-5,863) posted the biggest decreases in initial claims.
"Employers added just 74,000 jobs in December, the fewest in three years and far below the average of 214,000 added in the previous four months," the Associated Press reported. "The unemployment rate fell in December to 6.7 percent from 7 percent. But much of the decline was due to an exodus of about 347,000 unemployed people who stopped looking for work. Once people without jobs stop looking for one, they're no longer counted as unemployed."
Markets are more or less ignoring Thursday's initial claims data and are instead focusing on Federal Reserve's announcement Wednesday that it would move forward with its plan to cut its monthly bond purchases starting in February by $10 billion to $65 billion:
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This post has been updated.