Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

U.S. Jobless Claims Rise by Most Since Storms to Five-Week High

U.S. filings for unemployment benefits jumped to the highest in five weeks, though the level remained low by historical standards, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Jobless Claims (Week Ended Dec. 16)

  • Jobless claims increased by 20k to 245k (est. 233k); biggest rise since week ended Sept. 2, which reflected Hurricane Harvey
  • Continuing claims rose by 43k to 1.932m in week ended Dec. 9 (data reported with one-week lag)
  • Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, rose to 236,000 from the prior week’s 234,750

Key Takeaways

The latest period encompasses the reporting week that the Labor Department surveys for its monthly employment figures, which includes the 12th of the month. The four-week average is still below its 240,000 level for the previous survey week in November.

Even with the rise, jobless claims remain below the 300,000 level that’s considered a healthy snapshot of the job market, and the latest figure isn’t far from the lowest in more than four decades. Most employment indicators remain in solid shape, and claims can be volatile from week to week.

Other Details

  • Maine and Virgin Islands had estimated claims last week, according to the Labor Department
  • Prior week’s reading unrevised at 225,000
  • Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits rose to 1.4 percent from 1.3 percent

— With assistance by Kristy Scheuble

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