US jobless claims surged during the Christmas week to 6-month high

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployments insurance benefits surged last week.

The U.S. Labor Department said on Thursday that in the week ending Dec 26 the number of jobless claims rose by 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 287,000 – the highest level of new claims since the first week of July.

The number of claims was higher than what economists polled by Reuters had forecast – of a rise to 270,000.

The four-week moving average increase by 4,500 to 277,000 during the Christmas week and the number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits rose by 3,000 to 2.2 million.

Rob Martin at Barclays Research was quoted by Reuters as saying:

“Despite the modest rise in initial claims towards year-end, both initial and continuing jobless claims improved considerably in 2015 and both series remain at or near their lowest levels since the early 1970s,”

“These data indicate that, at least from the separations side, the labor market remained strong to the very end of the year.”