By Dow Jones Business News,
January 23, 2014, 08:45:00 AM EDT
By Jeffrey Sparshott and Sarah Portlock
WASHINGTON--The number of people filing for new unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, though the overall
level suggests a steadily improving labor market.
Initial claims for jobless benefits, a measure of layoffs, increased by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000 in the
week ended Jan. 18, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected 330,000 new
The four-week moving average for claims, which evens out bumpy week-to-week data, fell by 3,750 to 331,500.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors affecting the data. Jobless-claims numbers tend to be
volatile around the turn of the year when holiday- and weather-related issues can complicate seasonal adjustments.
Recent data on the labor market and broader U.S. economy have been broadly positive, leading Federal Reserve officials
to start paring back their bond-buying program.
Fed officials, who next meet Jan. 28-29, remain on track to reduce purchases again despite a weak December jobs
The Fed is watching labor market and other indicators closely as it weighs the future of the bond purchases, designed
to help hold down interest rates, spur investment and encourage hiring.
Thursday's report showed the number of continuing unemployment benefit claims--those drawn by workers for more than a
week--rose by 34,000 to 3,056,000 in the week ended Jan. 11. Continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag.
Special extended unemployment benefits dropped to zero on Jan. 4 from 1.35 million the prior week, the report said.
The benefits, established under a federal program put in place in 2008, provided up to 47 weeks of aid for people who
exhausted state-level insurance, which typically lasts about 26 weeks. The emergency program wasn't renewed by Congress
and expired at the end of 2013.
The Labor Department report on jobless claims can be accessed at: http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/eta/ui/
Write to Jeffrey Sparshott at firstname.lastname@example.org and Sarah Portlock at email@example.com.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
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