Unemployment claims rise unexpectedly

By Hibah Yousuf, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The number of Americans filing for initial unemployment insurance rose last week, the government said Thursday. Analysts had expected a decline.

There were 480,000 initial job claims filed in the week ended Dec. 12, up 7,000 from the previous week's revised 473,000, the Labor Department said.

Meet the long-term jobless
There are now a record 5.6 million people who have been unemployed for more than six months. A few tell us what life is like for them now.

A consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected claims to decline to 465,000.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims totaled 467,000, down 5,250 from the previous week's revised average of 472,750.

This marks the second consecutive week that claims have climbed. But weekly claims have proven to be volatile with some pops but overall maintaining a downward trajectory. Analysts say that's normal for this time of year.

"With all the seasonal factors in play at this time of year, I'm not going to get too concerned over a couple of weeks of increases," said Robert Dye, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group. "I expect the downward trend to steadily continue, but it wouldn't surprise me if we get another erratic week or two."

Continuing claims: The government said 5,186,000 people filed continuing claims in the week ended Dec. 5, the most recent data available. That's 5,000 up from the preceding week's revised 5,181,000 claims.

The 4-week moving average for ongoing claims fell by 106,750 to 5,318,250 from the previous week's revised 5,425,000.

But the slide may signal that more filers are dropping off those rolls into extended benefits.

Continuing claims reflect people filing each week after their initial claim until the end of their standard benefits, which usually last 26 weeks. The figures do not include those who have moved to state or federal extensions, or people whose benefits have expired.

Congress passed legislation last month to extend federally paid benefits up to 99 weeks, depending on the state, but the law only helps those who exhaust the unemployment lifelines by the year's end.

Lawmakers in the House passed a measure Wednesday to extend the filing deadline through the end of February. Both chambers initially introduced bills to push the deadline to apply for benefits through 2010 or beyond, but democratic leaders in the House scaled back the effort in hopes of getting the bill through the Senate more quickly.

State-by-state: Jobless claims in two states declined by more than 1,000 for the week ended Dec. 5, the most recent data available. Claims in Kansas state dropped the most, by 3,803.

A total of 29 states said the claims increased by more than 1,000. Claims in California jumped by 28,358, which a state-supplied comment said was due to the return to a 5-day work week following the Thanksgiving holiday and layoffs in the construction and services industries.

Dour outlook: Dye said the recent increases will not sustain a rebound, and the underlying downward trend will continue.

He added that layoffs in construction industry will taper in the coming weeks since Congress passed a measure in November to extend and expend the homebuyer's tax credit last month.

"I don't want to put too much weight on one or two weeks of movement," he said. "We've seen steady improvements, and I expect the overall improving trend to continue."  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.23%4.19%
15 yr fixed3.26%3.27%
5/1 ARM3.70%3.38%
30 yr refi4.22%4.18%
15 yr refi3.26%3.26%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,279.74 13.75 0.08%
Nasdaq 4,579.79 -13.64 -0.30%
S&P 500 2,010.40 -0.96 -0.05%
Treasuries 2.59 -0.04 -1.60%
Data as of 6:03am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Yahoo! Inc 40.93 -1.16 -2.74%
Microsoft Corp 47.52 0.84 1.80%
Bank of America Corp... 16.95 -0.09 -0.53%
Oracle Corp 39.80 -1.75 -4.21%
Facebook Inc 77.91 0.91 1.18%
Data as of Sep 19

Sections

Law enforcement officials say Frank Tamayo was the middleman in a $5.6 million insider trading scheme that involved him eating pieces of paper to cover up the crime. More

Scotland's clear rejection of independence has eased fears that it could suffer the kind of decline seen in Quebec after it failed to break away from Canada. More

It's really good to be Larry Ellison. The Oracle founder is stepping down as CEO, so maybe he'll have more time to enjoy his glamorous life. More

As Occupy Wall Street goes on its debt-abolishing tear, thousands of people across the country are begging them to forgive their loans. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.