The thousands of temporary workers who lost their jobs after the holidays dampened the weekly unemployment report.
New jobless claims climbed to 399,000 in the week ending Jan. 7. That was 24,000 more than the previous week and the highest number in six weeks, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Economists say claims need to drop to no more than 375,000 for a sustained period to make a dent in the unemployment rate, which fell to 8.5% in December, the lowest in nearly three years.
The four-week moving average of jobless claims was 381,750, an increase of 7,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 374,000. The four-week moving average is a less volatile measure of joblessness.
As the Los Angeles Times’ Don Lee reported last week, the economy still has 6 million fewer jobs than in December 2007, when the recession started and the jobless rate was 5%.
But at least one retailer is hiring now.
Home Depot said Thursday that it would add 70,000 workers this spring, its biggest season. Last year about half that number were hired permanently as cashiers, sales, lot and garden staffers. Home Depot employs about 300,000 workers overall.