Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose, on a seasonally adjusted basis, to 367,000 last week, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Jan. 13. The figure was 10,000 higher than the 357,000 claims filed the previous week and nearly 30,000 higher than the 340,000 figure economists generally were expecting for the week ending Jan. 8.
The Labor Department's four-week moving index of initial claims, which smooths out week-to-week changes and is seen as a better indicator of underlying labor market conditions, increased by 12,750 last week to 344,000."These data keep us concerned that the monthly pace of job creation is in the 150,000 range-a pace insufficient to keep the unemployment rate moving lower," says Sheryl King, a senior economist at Merrill Lynch & Co., New York.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that retail sales for December were a seasonally adjusted $349.4 billion, up 1.2% from November. The increase was slightly better than the 1% rise economists generally expected. Retail sales for full-year 2004 were up 8% from those in 2003.