Jobless Claims on the Rise


Published 12/19 2013 11:09AM

Updated 12/19 2013 11:10AM

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level in nearly nine months, casting a shadow on the labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 379,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was the highest level since March and marked the second straight week that claims have risen.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 334,000 last week.

The four-week moving average for new claims, which irons out week-to-week volatility, increased 13,250 to 343,500.

"This is not really good. Some of us had thought last week's jump was an aberration. We have to see what's going on here. Obviously the Fed won't be looking at these numbers kindly after what happened yesterday," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday said it viewed the risks to the outlook for the economy and the labor market as "having become more nearly balanced." The U.S. central bank announced it would reduce its monthly $85 billion bond buying program by $10 billion starting in January.

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