After first-time claims dropped by 37,000 last week, claims escalated, climbing by 51,000 to 454,000, the department said.
A month ago, initial claims fell under 400,000 for the first time since July 2008. The decline did not hold, however, the four-week rolling average this week rose by 15,750 to 428,750.
The U.S. unemployment rate fell from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent in December, but the latest number reflected a negative trend with 260,000 long-term unemployed workers dropping out of the workforce, while only 103,000 found jobs.
The Labor Department said the biggest increases in claims for the week ending Jan.15 were reported by Florida with 6,646 additional claims, Nevada, which added 242 and the Virgin Islands, which added 103.
For the week ending Jan.15, the biggest decrease was reported by New York with a decline of 28,714, followed by Georgia with a decline of 19,429 and North Carolina with a decline of 16,132.