- POSTED: 13 Dec 2013 00:26
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First-time claims for US unemployment benefits jumped in the first week of December from November's low numbers, official data released Thursday showed.
WASHINGTON: First-time claims for US unemployment benefits jumped in the first week of December from November's low numbers, official data released Thursday showed.
New jobless claims rose to 368,000 in the week ending December 7 from the prior week's upwardly revised figure of 300,000, the Labor Department said.
Claims were much higher than analysts expected. The average estimate was a rise to 315,000 claims.
The increase pushed the four-week moving average higher by 6,000 to 328,750.
Analysts cautioned that the report was not a clear indicator of the jobs market because of the difficulty of adjusting the numbers in the year-end holiday season.
"This was the largest jump in claims since the post-Hurricane Sandy jump last fall and reverses all of the improvement over the past two months. Adjusting the data for the Thanksgiving holiday is always problematic, however, and this jump will likely be reversed in subsequent weeks," said Marisa Di Natale of Moody's Analytics.
"It is likely that in subsequent weeks, claims will settle back down to around 300,000, which is roughly where they were prior the Great Recession's start," she said.
The claims numbers, a sign of the pace of layoffs, came after the Labor Department on Friday reported the jobless rate fell to a five-year low of 7.0 per cent in November and the economy added 203,000 jobs, picking up from the two previous months.
Analysts said the strength of the November jobs report could give the Federal Reserve more reason to begin cutting back its US$85 billion a month bond-buying programme, aimed at boosting economic growth.
Markets are focused ahead on next week's Fed policy meeting, with some analysts expecting the central bank will announce it is tapering the asset purchases after wrapping up the two-day meeting Wednesday.