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US jobless claims rise

[WASHINGTON] New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits rose modestly last week in a labour market that nevertheless is seen continuing to tighten, official data released Thursday showed.

The Labour Department reported initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, rose by 7,000 to 284,000 in the week ending January 9.

The four-week moving average, which helps to smooth week-on-week volatility, rose by 3,000 to 278,750. A year ago it was 293,000.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, predicted substantial volatility in claims in the first weeks of the year but said the downward trend remained on track.

"Claims are very unpredictable and can be volatile in the first few weeks of the year because the seasonals can't track exactly the speed with which people hired for temporary jobs over the holidays are laid off," he said.

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"We see nothing in these data or other indirect measures of labour market activity to suggest that payroll growth will slow anytime soon, beyond the inevitable reversal of the boost to sectors like construction from the very warm late fall and early winter weather," he added.

The US economy capped a solid year of jobs growth in 2015 with a surge of 292,000 jobs added in December. That took total jobs created during the year to 2.65 million, the second-best year, after 2014, since the 1990s.

The unemployment rate held at 5.0 per cent for a third consecutive month, near the level considered full employment by the Federal Reserve.


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