Jobless claims rose 8.5% last week to highest level in months
Initial jobless claims increased 8.5% last week to 445,000, well above most analysts' estimates and to the highest level since October. The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of actual initial claims for the week ended Jan. 8 rose by 35,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 410,000. Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected jobless claims to come in at 405,000 with a range of estimates from 400,000 to 415,000. A Briefing.com survey projected new claims of 415,000 for last week. The four-week moving average, which is considered a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, increased by 5,500 to 416,500 claims from a revised average of 411,000. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate fell to 3.1% for the week ended Jan. 1 from 3.3% for the prior week, according to the Labor Department. The number of jobless claims in the first week of the year often skews higher because people wait until after the holidays to file, according to Bloomberg. Also paperwork backlogs ensure, as state unemployment offices are open for fewer hours, as reported by MarketWatch. The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits shot up to nearly 9.2 million for the week ended Dec. 25, an increase of 4.8% from the previous week. Write to Jason Philyaw.