The U.S. Labor Department is out with its take on weekly jobless claims, and the numbers are still coming in at levels conducive to better jobs figures than what was reported for December. It is important to realize that by now we are starting to also get rid of much of the holiday seasonality that is seen in many of these reports.
Claims were up 1,000 to 326,000, less than the 330,000 consensus estimate from both Bloomberg and Dow Jones.
The four-week average fell by 3,750 to 331,500. The army of the unemployed, the continuing claims (measured with a one-week lag), rose by 34,000 to 3,056,000. It also appears that those receiving special extended unemployment benefits fell to zero from 1.35 million as Congress ultimately did not extend those special claims.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics said:
The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending January 4 was 3,706,087, a decrease of 1,003,734 from the previous week. There were 5,659,482 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2013. ... The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program expired on January 1, 2014, and under current law no EUC payments will be made for weeks of unemployment after this date.
The good news is that this is lower than expected in weekly claims. The bad news is that the lower amount is close enough to estimates that it should not make a huge difference to market observers.
Perhaps the most important issue to watch is to see what happens with that 1.35 million in prior extended special benefits.