Claims estimates ranged from 340,000 to 385,000 in the Bloomberg survey of 35 economists. The prior week’s applications were revised up to 362,000 from an initially reported 350,000, reflecting a more accurate count after 19 states were estimated that week.
The Labor Department official today said the number of applications reflects the effects of the holidays. Eight states and territories provided their own estimates last week and the Labor Department projected the reading for one additional state.
The four-week moving average of claims, a less-volatile measure, rose to 360,000 from 359,750.
The report comes one day before the Labor Department’s monthly employment figures. Employers probably added jobs in December at about the same pace as the prior month, showing the labor market held up as lawmakers struggled to resolve the fiscal impasse, economists said before the report.
Payrolls rose by 151,000 workers after a 146,000 gain in November, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg ahead of the figures due tomorrow. The unemployment rate may have held at 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008.
The number of people continuing to collect jobless benefits climbed by 44,000 to 3.25 million in the week ended Dec. 22, today’s report showed. Continuing claims don’t include workers receiving extended benefits under federal programs.
Job-hunters who have used up their traditional benefits and are now collecting emergency and extended payments decreased by about 72,800 to 2.07 million in the week ended Dec. 15. Congress this week authorized another year of federal benefits for the long-term unemployed, which were set to expire this month.
Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings and tend to fall as job growth -- measured by the monthly non-farm payrolls report -- accelerates.