First time applications for state unemployment benefits jumped 54,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 524,000 in the week ending Jan. 10, the Labor Department said Thursday. This report marks the first weekly increase in three weeks, as claims have been significantly lower — dropping 24,000 the prior week and plunging 94,000 the week before that. The Labor Department has warned in recent weeks that falling claims would soon turn upward again, as the holiday readings of unemployment data tend to be rather volatile. However, claims filed last week were still higher than expected by many economists. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires predicted claims would rise by just 46,000 to 513,000. While new claims climbed, continuing claims — declared by workers who have collected benefits for more than a week — in the week ending Jan. 3, actually fell by 115,000 to 4,497,000. This drop may signal a break, for at least some, in finding a job, after last week’s report posted the highest level of continuing claims since 1982. The unemployment rate for workers with unemployment insurance held fast at 3.4 percent. According to the most recent data, the largest increases in initial claims have been in New York — where 24,465 people filed a claim in the week ending Jan. 3 — North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia. The largest decreases in first time claims were seen in California — dropping 14,796 — Kansas, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. The four-week moving average of new jobless claims, which can sometimes smooth volatility, dropped 8,000 to 518,500. The four-week moving average of continuing claims, despite last week’s ease in such claims filed, rose 27,500 to a whopping 4.5 million, its highest level since December 1982. Write to Kelly Curran at firstname.lastname@example.org.