Jobless claims start 2013 treading water

Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 9:06am

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Claims for unemployment benefits rose during the first week of 2013, showing little improvement from the start of last year.

About 371,000 people filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, up 4,000 from the previous week. Rewind to a year earlier, when 390,000 people filed initial claims the first week in 2012.

The decrease reflects some improvement in the job market, but not much. Claims at that level are consistent with hiring that adds roughly 150,000 jobs to the U.S. economy each month, as was the average for 2012. Hiring is expected to continue at that pace for the foreseeable future.

The weekly claims data is known for being volatile, so economists often prefer to look at a four-week moving average to smooth out the trends. That number rose to 365,750 last week, up 6,750 from a week earlier.

Meanwhile, 3.1 million people continued to file for a second week or more of unemployment benefits in the week ending December 29, the most recent data available. That was down 127,000 from a week earlier.

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