There were 367,000 first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week, the Employment and Training Administration says.
The bottom line: This doesn't mark any significant change in the jobs market, especially considering the "4-week moving average was 375,000, unchanged from the previous week's revised average." That figure is a better measure of labor market trends.
What we've said in recent months remains true: "Claims have been stuck in a range between 350,000 and 400,000 for the past year and are running at a pace that underscores how the labor market appears to be only slowly improving."
Reuters reports that this week's numbers were slightly better than economists expected:
"Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 370,0000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, was unchanged at 375,000. It was the first time since December last year that the four-week average was unchanged. ...
"Despite fears of tighter fiscal policy next January, there is little sign that companies are responding by laying off workers on a wide scale."