The jobless claims in the United States increased more than expected last week as Americans in large numbers turned up to file new applications for unemployment benefits. The trend, however, remained consistent with sustained strength in the labor market.
The initial claims for the state jobless benefits rose by 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 298,000 for the week that ended on December 27, according to the Labor Department report released on Wednesday. That followed declines for four straight weeks.
Meanwhile, several economists had forecast unemployment claims rising to 290,000 last week. The analysts said that the jobless claims were volatile around the Christmas holiday period.
Despite the upward trend recorded last week, the jobless claims continued to indicate toward a tightening labor market.
The four-week moving average of unemployment claims surged just 250 to 290,750 last week. It has remained below the 300,000 mark for 16 consecutive weeks.
The number of unemployment claims is considered as a better indicator of the trends in the country’s labor market as it irons out week-to-week volatility.
Meanwhile, the consumer confidence survey released by the Conference Board on Tuesday showed households were increasingly upbeat about the prospects of securing employment.
The government is likely to reveal next week that nonfarm payrolls rose 240,000 in the month of December after increasing 321,000 last month, according to a survey of economists by a news agency.
The unemployment claims report showed that the number of people still getting the jobless benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 53,000 to 2.35 million in the week that ended on December 20.