Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 10,000 to a
seasonally adjusted 293,000 for the week ended Jan. 16, the highest
reading since early July, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
The prior week's claims were revised to show 1,000 fewer
applications received than previously reported. Economists polled by
Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 278,000 in the latest week.
While layoffs appear to have picked up a bit in recent weeks, the
increases probably do not suggest a material weakening in labor
market conditions as claims data is difficult to adjust around this
time of the year.
Claims have now been below the 300,000 mark, which is associated
with strong labor market conditions, for 46 straight weeks. That is
the longest streak since the early 1970s.
Outside the energy, mining and manufacturing sectors, which have
been devastated by a slump in crude oil prices and a strong dollar,
layoffs have been generally low as the labor market approaches full
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors
influencing the data and only claims for Puerto Rico and Wyoming 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
6,500 to 285,000 last week, the highest reading since mid-April.
The claims data covered the survey period for January nonfarm
payrolls. The four-week average of claims rose 14,250 between the
December and January survey periods.
[to top of second column]
While that suggests a drop in payroll gains from December's robust
292,000 jobs, employment growth in January is expected to top
The economy is struggling with the headwinds of a strong dollar,
slowing global demand and relentless spending cuts in the energy
sector, which have pressured manufacturing.
An inventory overhang has also left businesses placing fewer new
orders with factories, leading to predictions that fourth-quarter
gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of less than 1
percent after expanding at a 2 percent pace in the July-September
The claims report showed the number of people still receiving
benefits after an initial week of aid fell 56,000 to 2.21 million in
the week ended Jan. 9. The four-week average of the so-called
continuing claims rose 3,250 to 2.23 million.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.