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Applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits rose by less than forecast last week after a plunge tied to seasonal adjustments in the previous period.
Initial unemployment claims in regular state programs totaled 222,000 in the week ended Nov. 27 — an increase of 28,000 from the week before, the U.S. Department of Labor data showed Thursday.
The smaller-than-expected rise in claims nationwide suggests additional progress in the job market.
At the same time, seasonal adjustment difficulties are likely to persist into the new year, making the figures tricky to interpret.
The increase puts claims more in line with the trend that persisted before the outsized drop in the preceding week, which economists attributed to quirks in seasonal adjustment and volatility around the holidays.
The previous week’s reading was revised down to 194,000, the lowest since 1969.
In Iowa, first-time applications fluctuated more than usual.
For the week ended Nov. 27, the state recorded 1,898 initial claims. That was a drop of 955 applicants from the previous week (which stood at 2,853 for Nov. 20). And that in turn was a rise of 1,042 (from 1,811 for Nov. 13) from the week ended Nov. 13.
Iowa Workforce Development communications officer Jeff Eckhoff said in an email Thursday that the Nov. 20 jum likely was related to "seasonal layoffs in road construction and other outdoor construction activity. There also were some temporary layoffs in manufacturing.“
Continued claims in Iowa saw a similar fluctuation, with this past week’s numbers recorded at 9,209. Nov. 20 saw 9,513 claims and Nov. 13 listed 9,197.
Employers nationally have been desperate to attract and retain talent amid widespread labor shortages.
Job cuts fell 77 percent in November from a year ago to the lowest level since 1993, according to Challenger, Gray and Christmas.
The figures come a day before the government’s monthly employment report, which is projected to show payrolls increased by 546,000 in November.
The Gazette contributed Iowa numbers to this report.