Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment rose much higher than forecast in the December 7 week, jumping 68,000 to 368,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Expectations for this week's report was for a claims level of 335,000, which would have been a rise of 37,000 from the previously reported 298,000 level in the November 30 week. Initial claims that week were revised up 2,000 to 300,000.

A Labor analyst said the sharp rise in claims was likely the result of volatility due to the Thanksgiving holiday, similar to the sudden drop the week before.

The analyst said that seasonal adjustment factors had expected an increase of 19.2% or 60,520 in unadjusted claims in the December 7 week. Instead, unadjusted claims rose 46.4% or 146,241, hitting an unadjusted level of 461,422. That level is higher than the 429,188 reported in the comparable week a year ago.

The initial claims seasonally adjusted 4-week moving average rose 6,000 to 328,750 in the December 7 week.

The state data released for the November 30 week showed that unadjusted initial claims rose in 14 states and fell in 39 states, with no states unchanged. The District of Columbia, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are included in this data.

The level of continuing claims came in at 2.791 million after seasonal adjustment in the November 30 week, 40,000 above the 2.751 million reported the week before.

The level of unadjusted continuing claims rose 474,856 to 2,961,497 in the November 30 week, below the 3,174,709 reported in the comparable week a year ago.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate held steady at 2.1% in the November 30 week, still well below the 2.5% rate reported in the comparable week a year ago.

The unemployment rate among the insured labor force is well below that reported monthly by the Labor Department because claims are approved mostly for job losers, not thos eleaving their jobs or reentering the work force, both of which are included in the monthly report.

The Labor Department said that the level of unadjusted Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits claims fell 101,672 to 1,248,932 in the November 23 week.

The Labor Department reported that a total of 3,800,667 persons claimed unemployment benefits in the November 23 week, a decline of 296,234 from the previous week. That level is still well below the 5,641,066 persons in the comparable week a year ago. These data are not seasonally adjusted, and include regular state claims, federal employee claims, new veteran claims, and the EUC and extended benefits programs, state additional benefits and STC/workshare claims.

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