Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The number of Americans filing for initial jobless benefit claims dropped for the first time in three weeks, a reflection of the gradual improvement in the labor market.
In the week ended Dec. 21, unemployment claims filed declined by 42,000 to 338,000, according to a Labor Department report released Thursday in Washington. The median forecast of 42 economists predicted a 345,000 drop, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.
No special factors affected the data, according to the Labor Department, though the number of claims around the winter holiday season is usually volatile. Many economists warned against reading too much into the data during the period, as holidays and significant swings in unadjusted data toward the end of the year can make seasonal adjustments for unemployment claims complicated.
The claims estimates of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News ranged from 310,000 to 365,000. Claims jumped to a revised 380,000 in the prior week from a previously estimated 379,000. The four-week moving average for jobless claims, a less volatile gauge compared with the weekly data, climbed to 348,000 last week from 343,750.
In the week ended Dec. 14, the number of continuing jobless benefit claims, or drawn by workers for more than a week, increased by 46,000 to 2,923,000, the report showed.