New claims for jobless benefits edged up by 1,000 in the past week to 434,000 while other claims data showed modest improvement in the troubled labor market, official figures showed on Jan. 7.
The seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in the week ending January 2 rose slightly from the prior week, when it had hit the lowest level in over a year.
The four-week moving average, a less volatile indicator than the week-to-week figures, fell to 450,250 from the previous week's revised average of 460,500.
The figures offer some hope that the brutal pace of job cuts is easing as the economy pulls out recession.
The report showed the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.6% for the week ending December 26, a decrease from the prior week's unrevised rate of 3.8%.
The number of people receiving benefits in the week to December 26 fell by 179,000 to 4,802,000.
"On net, claims for unemployment benefits are indicating modest labor market firming," said Andrew Gledhill at Moody's Economy.com.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010