January 11, 2018 10:15 AM, EST

Jobless Claims Rise to Three-Month High After Holidays

Jim Young/Bloomberg News

U.S. filings for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose to a three-month high last week during a holiday period when claims tend to be volatile, Labor Department figures showed Jan. 11.

Highlights of Jobless Claims for the Week Ended Jan. 6

• Jobless claims increased by 11,000 to 261,000 (estimated 245,000), highest since week ended Sept. 23, when filings were elevated due to hurricanes.

• Continuing claims fell by 35k to 1.867m in week ended Dec. 30 (data reported with one-week lag), lowest since Dec. 1973.

• Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, rose to 250,750 from the prior week’s 241,750.

Key Takeaways

Even with the latest increase, claims remain low by historical standards, with levels below 300,000 seen as indicating a healthy labor market as companies remain reluctant to fire workers. Last week included the New Year’s Day holiday and followed the week containing Christmas, which tend to generate fluctuations in filings due to seasonal positions and difficulties adjusting for them.

RELATED: Job openings declined in November to a six-month low

At the same time, further increases in jobless claims could suggest that labor-market progress is hitting bumps. A report last week showed that U.S. employers added fewer jobs in December than economists had penciled in, amid a drop in retail positions.

Other Details

• Prior week’s jobless claims unrevised at 250,000.

• Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits fell to 1.3% from 1.4% in previous week.

• Claims were estimated for Maine in latest week.

• New York, California and Georgia had the biggest increases in unadjusted claims last week.

With assistance by Chris Middleton and Sophie Caronello