Initial jobless claims were unchanged at 245,000 in the December 23 week though, due to the holidays, an unusually large total of 15 states had to be estimated (this includes the territories of the Virgin Islands and also Puerto Rico where post-hurricane conditions are still disrupted and the estimate is elevated at 5,423 which is roughly double the average). Though 245,000 is a bit on the high side for initial claims, the 4-week average is still low, at 237,750 for only a slight gain in the week.
Continuing claims in lagging data for the December 16 week rose slightly to 1.943 million with this 4-week average down 24,000 to 1.920 million. The unemployment rate for insured workers remains at 1.4 percent.
The large number of estimates clouds this report but earlier readings in December point to strong health for the labor market and to another favorable monthly employment report.