Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 8,000 to a
seasonally adjusted 285,000 for the week ended Jan. 30, the Labor
Department said on Thursday. The prior week's claims were revised to
show 1,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.
Despite the increase last week, claims remained below 300,000, a
level associated with strong labor market conditions, for the 48th
straight week. That is the longest run since the early 1970s.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors
influencing last week's claims data and only claims in Oklahoma had
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure
of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose
2,000 to 284,750 last week.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 280,000
in the latest week.
The rise in claims came as economic growth slowed to a 0.7 percent
annual pace in the fourth quarter, held back by the headwinds of a
strong dollar and faltering global demand.
A downturn in capital spending by energy companies, reeling from a
collapse in oil prices, and inventory destocking by businesses are
also constraining growth. At the same time, a stock market rout
sparked by fears of a global economic slump has caused financial
conditions to tighten.
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The claims data has no bearing on January's employment report, which
is scheduled to be released on Friday, as it falls outside the
survey period. According to a Reuters survey of economists, nonfarm
payrolls are expected to have increased 190,000 last month after
surging 292,000 in December. The unemployment rate is forecast
holding steady at a 7-1/2-year low of 5 percent.
Thursday's claims report also showed the number of people still
receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 18,000 to 2.26
million in the week ended Jan. 23. The four-week average of the
so-called continuing claims increased 5,250 to 2.25 million.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)
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