Jobless claims down to 352,000 last week
Initial jobless claims fell to the lowest level in almost four years last week, coming in well below most analysts' estimates. The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of actual initial claims for the week ended Jan. 14 fell to 352,000 from 402,000 the previous week, which was revised upward 3,000. Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected 383,000 new jobless claims last week with a range of estimates between 370,000 and 400,000. Economists believe weekly claims lower than 400,000 indicate the economy is expanding and jobs growth is strengthening. Initial claims have been lower than this threshold for most of the past three months. The four-week moving average, which is considered a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, decreased by 3,500 claims to 379,000 from the prior week's slightly revised 382,500. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate for the week ended Jan. 7 fell to 2.7% from 2.9%, according to the Labor Department. The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits for the week ended Dec. 31 rose to 7.82 million from 7.33 million the prior week. Write to Jason Philyaw. Follow him on Twitter: @jrphilyaw.