Jobless claims for Americans for the week ending Dec. 6 declined but still are still trending higher than a month ago in comparisons that do not point to further improvement for the monthly employment report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and EconoDay report.

Initial claims fell by 3,000 last week to 294,000 but the 4-week average, up slightly to 299,250, is still about 15,000 higher than in early November.

Continuing claims tell the same story, up a steep 142,000 to 2.514 million in lagging data for the November 29 week.

Click to enlarge

(Source: BLS)

This is the highest level since mid August.

The 4-week average, up 28,000 to 2.386 million, is also up about 15,000 vs the month-ago comparison. The unemployment rate for insured workers ticked higher for the first time since late August, up 1 tenth to 1.9 percent.

There are no special factors in today's report, one that points to less momentum than expected in the labor market.