Initial claims came, saw and missed for the 4th week in a row, printing at 371K, on expectations of a decline from 372K to 365K. As happens at the end of every year when employers turn on the pink sheet machine, the not seasonally adjusted number soared from 490K to 552K in the week ending January 5, a difference to the seasonally adjusted print of 181K. This is to be expected. What was unexpected is that the last week print saw its first downward adjustment in what seems years (it actually is years), with the December 29 week claims number declining from 372K to 367K, probably as a result of all the year end guessing that goes on to assist the other guessing that goes into the seasonal adjustment guessing. In short: everyone is guessing. States that saw a surge in layoffs in the week ended December 29 were MI (+15K) and PA (+12K) due to "Layoffs in the manufacturing industry", and "Layoffs in the transportation, construction, food and beverage manufacturing, and metals industries." Finally those claiming extended benefits plunged by 76K in the last week of 2012, putting further pressure on the strength of the US consumer. Overall a report that confirms that 6 years after the start of the Depression, propped by some $15 trillion in central bank reserve liquidity injections the bulk of which has been used to prop stock markets, there is still no actual improvement in the economy.