According to data from the US Department of Labor (DoL) for the week ending January 25, unemployment claims rose by 14,000 to 397,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 383,000 . But the four-week average, considered a more reliable measure of labor conditions because it irons out weekly fluctuations, edged down to 384,000 from a revised 387,000 – its lowest level since November.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast, on average, that initial claims would only inch up to 385,000. The report for the week ending January 18 showed claims up 18,000 to 381,000. (See Jobless Aid Applications Head North).
In recent months, the claims figure has been swinging modestly on either side of the key 400,000 level, which economists look on as a sign of a stagnant labor market.