The number of people filing initial jobless claims climbed nearly 12.7% last week to 454,000, well above most analysts’ estimates. The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of actual initial claims for the week ended Jan. 22 rose by 51,000 from the previous week’s 403,000, which was revised downward slightly. Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected jobless claims to come in at 405,000 with a range of estimates from 375,000 to 425,000. A Briefing.com survey projected new claims of 400,000 for last week. Economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires projected a slight increase to 405,000 claims. Over the past few weeks, initial claims had been inching closer to coming in below 400,000, which is the level most economists believe indicates the economy is expanding and jobs growth is strengthening. MarketWatch reported Thursday that the Labor Department said poor weather in four Southern states led to the closure of some unemployment offices earlier in January. Consequently, last week’s increase was due, in part, to a reduction of the backlog of claims created by the office closings, according to the MarketWatch article. The four-week moving average, which is considered a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, increased by 15,750 to 428,750 from an upwardly revised average of 413,000. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate rose to 3.2% for the week ended Jan. 15 from 3.1% the prior week, according to the Labor Department. The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits slid about 2% to more than 9.4 million for the week ended Jan. 8. Write to Jason Philyaw.
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