US jobless claims push off five-year lows last week
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits bounced off five-year lows last week, pulling them back to levels consistent with modest job growth.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 38,000 to a seasonally adjusted 368,000, the Labour Department said on Thursday. The prior week's claims figure was unrevised. Economists polled by Reuters had expected claims to increase to 350,000.
Claims have been very volatile this month, dropping sharply in the week ended Jan 12 and maintaining the trend in the following week. That was largely because the model used by the department to smooth out the seasonal variations has been unusually generous during the first three weeks of January.
The volatility in the so-called seasonal factors has to do with the timing of holidays and when the week ends. The January calendar this year is aligned to 2008 and claims have generally followed a similar pattern.