WASHINGTON—The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits climbed last week, a jump that may be due to holiday-season data volatility rather than a deteriorating labor market.
Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., rose to a seasonally adjusted 284,000 in the week ended Jan. 9, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Last week’s rise could reflect layoffs at retailers, warehouse distribution centers and other holiday-related jobs, although the data is adjusted for seasonal variations. Unusually warm weather in December also boosted job gains in construction, which could reverse as winter kicks in. December’s jobs report also showed more than 34,000 jobs added in temporary help services.
Jobless claims data tends to be volatile from week to week, but have generally been falling since 2009 and have held at historically low levels for months now. Economists said the seasonal holiday-related volatility typically extended through the first few weeks of the year.