Jobless claims held steady, signaling solid U.S. labor market


NEW YORK – The number of people filing for U.S. unemployment benefits held steady last week, in part reflecting estimated data for 13 states and still consistent with a strong job market, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of jobless claims (Week ended Dec. 23)

  • Jobless claims were unchanged at 245,000 from prior week (est. 240,000)
  • Continuing claims rose by 7,000 to 1.94 million in week ended Dec. 16, the highest since mid-November; data reported with one-week lag
  • Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, increased to 237,750 from the prior week’s 236,000

Key takeaways

Claims are still hovering near the lowest level in more than four decades, underscoring employers’ reluctance to reduce staff given the shortage of qualified workers.

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Jobless claims are typically volatile this time of the year around the holiday season. Some of the country’s largest states, such as New York and Texas, showed estimated data for last week. In New York, applications rose by 4,503 on an unadjusted basis.

For more than two years, applications for jobless benefits have been below the 300,000 tally that’s considered a sign of a healthy labor market. A report next week is projected to show hiring rose in December and the unemployment rate stayed at the lowest level since late-2000, signaling continued strength in demand for workers.

Other details

  • Prior week’s reading was unrevised at 245,000
  • Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits unchanged at 1.4 percent
  • California, New York, Oklahoma and Texas were among the states for which claims were estimated last week, according to the Labor Department.
  • Claims were also estimated for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where data was affected by hurricanes

Shobhana Chandra is a reporter for Bloomberg News.