US job claims hit six-month high during holiday week

Filings for US unemployment benefits rose for a third week to the highest level since May, potentially reflecting volatility around two consecutive periods that included holidays.

Jobless claims increased by 10 000 to 234 000 in the week ended November 24, Labour Department figures showed on Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey was for a decrease to 220 000.

The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, rose to 223 250, the highest since July, from 218 500.

Key insights

Analysts may discount the latest results for the weeks that included the Thanksgiving holiday on November 22 and the observance of Veterans Day on November 12, as filings tend to show swings around such events.

While applications for unemployment benefits are still hovering near historically low levels, further increases in weekly claims could signal a slowdown in the labour market.

Even though the weekly claims data tend to gyrate, economists watch these figures for a timely read on the labour market’s health. The November monthly payrolls report, due on December 7, is projected to show another solid gain.

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