According to Labor Department data released Thursday, the number of first-time applicants for unemployment benefits rose only slightly for the week ended December 24, topping out at 225,000. That number is up 9,000 from the previous week’s tally of 216,000. Continuing claims, filed by people who have received unemployment benefits for more than one week, rose from1.67 million to 1.71 million for the week ended December 17.
To date, the relatively low number of jobless claims indicate that Americans are enjoying a high level of job security. However, in the coming weeks, thousands of temporary workers with holiday season jobs will be out of work, and will then apply for unemployment. Government data is seasonally adjusted to account for those job losses, but the adjustments are imperfect, and so layoffs of temporary workers could distort the data and make the labor market appear more volatile at a glance than it actually is.