Initial jobless claims missed expectations yet again, staying well above the 300,000 mark for the third week running.

The 307,000 jobless claims included 75,000 out of energy-heavy economies in Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as well as Colorado. By comparison, those states had an average 30,000 initial claims in October.

Jobless claims have been inching higher and are not pointing to increasing strength for the January employment report. Initial claims did fall 10,000 in the Jan. 17 week.

The Jan. 17 week is the sample week for the monthly employment report and a comparison with the December sample week shows a sizable 18,000 increase.

The more important 4-week rolling average printed at 306,500, up 6,500 from the prior week for the highest reading since way back in July.

A sample-week to sample-week comparison for the average shows a 7,750 increase this month. Continuing claims, which are reported with a 1-week lag, have also been on the increase.

Continuing claims for the Jan. 10 week rose 15,000 to 2.443 million with the 4-week average up 9,000 to 2.427 million. This average has also been on the rise and is up 8,000 from the month-ago comparison. The unemployment rate for insured workers is unchanged at 1.8%.

Initial jobless claims jumped sharply in the Jan. 10 week, up 19,000 to a 316,000 level that's the highest since September. The four-week average was up 6,750 to 298,000 which is about even with the month-ago comparison. Data on continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week lag, are mixed. Continuing claims fell 51,000 in the Jan. 3 week to 2.424 million but the four-week average rose 12,000 to 2.415 million in a comparison that is also about even with a month ago.