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U.S. jobless claims rise 18,000 to 409,000

U.S. jobless claims rise 18,000 to 409,000 (by Jeffry Bartash)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The number of U.S. workers filing new applications for jobless benefits rose last week by 18,000 to 409,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected initial claims in the week of Jan. 1 to total about 400,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The prior week's number was revised up by 3,000 to 391,000. The four-week average of new claims, however, dropped 3,500 to 410,750, the lowest level since July 2008. The moving average is considered a more accurate barometer of employment trends because it smoothens out quirks in the weekly data. In the week of Dec. 25, meanwhile, the number of people who continued to receive benefits under state unemployment programs declined by 47,000 to a seasonally adjusted 4.1 million. Altogether, 8.77 million people received some kind of state or federal benefits in the week of Dec. 18, on an unadjusted basis. That was down 92,277 from the prior week.