WASHINGTON — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell by 42,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 338,000, the biggest drop since November, 2012. But economists say the figures from late November and December are warped by seasonal volatility around the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that the less-volatile four-week average rose 4,250 to 348,000.
Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. Claims had jumped 75,000 over the two weeks that ended Dec. 14 before plunging last week.