Those who’ve used up their traditional benefits and are now collecting emergency and extended payments decreased by about 288,300 to 1.83 million in the week ended Jan. 19.
The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 2.5% in the week ended Jan. 26. Four states and territories reported an increase in claims, while 49 reported a decrease.
Initial jobless claims reflect weekly firings and tend to fall as job growth -- measured by the monthly non-farm payrolls report -- accelerates.
Employers added 157,000 workers to payrolls in January after hiring a revised 196,000 the month before and 247,000 in November, a Labor Department report showed Feb. 1. Revisions added a total of 127,000 jobs to the count in the last two months of 2012, bringing the average monthly gain for the quarter to 201,000. It was the best performance since the first three months of 2012.
The report also showed the unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 7.9% from 7.8%, showing the pickup in hiring still falls short of what’s needed to quickly bring down joblessness.
Improving employment opportunities would help insulate consumers from higher taxes this year and lift the household spending that drives the economy.
Home Depot Inc., the nation’s largest home-improvement retailer, is adding to job prospects. The Atlanta-based company said this week it plans to take on more than 80,000 temporary workers ahead of its busiest season, about 14 percent more than a year ago, as a housing rebound spurs spending on remodeling and landscaping.