Initial jobless claims fell a sizable 21,000 in the February 14 week to a slightly lower-than-expected 283,000, nearly reversing a 25,000 spike in the prior week.
Notably, shale states saw big rises, including Texas, which is troubling since Texas has led the nation in job creation.
Claims have been largely flat since September but the ongoing shedding of energy sector jobs and the spike in continuing claims points to trouble ahead.
Continuing claims, which are reported with a 1-week lag, rose 58,000 in the February 7 week to 2.425 million.
The 4-week average is down 10,000 to a 2.398 million level that was last matched in early December. The unemployment rate for insured workers remains at a recovery low of 1.8%.
Volatility in weekly data puts importance on the 4-week average which is down for a 4th straight week, 6,500 lower to 283,250 that is the lowest level since early November.