Blaming the rise on snow? I can't blame the snow.
New Jobless Claims Jumped to 496,000
The department said Thursday that first-time claims for unemployment insurance rose by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 496,000. Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a drop to 455,000.
The four-week average has risen by about 30,000 in the past month, raising concerns that job cuts are continuing. Initial claims had fallen sharply over the summer and fall but the improvement has stalled since the year began.
The Labor Department said earlier this month that while the unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent from 10 percent, employers still cut 20,000 jobs. The economy has lost 8.4 million jobs since the recession began.
The Federal Reserve said last week that it expects the rate will average between 9.5 percent and 9.7 percent this year.
The number of people continuing to claim unemployment benefits, meanwhile, was essentially unchanged at 4.6 million. Those figures, known as "continuing claims," lag initial claims by a week. But there are now many more people receiving extended unemployment benefits that aren't included in the continuing claims figures.
Congress has provided up to 73 weeks of extra benefits, paid for by the federal government, for jobless workers who have used up the standard 26 weeks of benefits customarily provided by states. About 5.7 million people received extended benefits in the week ended Feb. 6, the latest data available, down from more than 6 million the previous week. The extended benefit data isn't seasonally adjusted and is volatile from week to week.