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U.S. Unemployment Claims Rise Sharply to 399,000

MarketWatch (01/12/12) Bartash, Jeffrey

New applications for unemployment benefits increased last week to the highest level since late November, most likely because of end-of-the-year layoffs following the holiday season. Jobless claims rose by 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 399,000 in the week ended Jan. 7, reports the U.S. Labor Department. Claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 375,000 from 372,000. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had estimated that claims would rise to a seasonally adjusted 380,000.

Claims usually rise to their highest level of the year, on an unadjusted basis, in the first or second week of January owing to end-of-the year changes in hiring and employment practices. Economists will watch closely over the next few weeks to see if claims resume a recent downward trend or spike higher as they did early in 2011.