June 13th, 2024

Weekly applications for US jobless benefits tick up slightly

By The Associated Press on October 26, 2023.

A hiring sign is displayed at a retail store in Wheeling, Ill., Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023. On Thursday, the Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

NEW YORK (AP) – The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits rose last week but remains historically low as the labor market continues to show strength amid high interest rates and inflation.

Jobless claim applications rose by 10,000 to 210,000 for the week ending Oct. 21, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The previous week’s applications were the fewest in eight months.

Jobless claim applications are considered a proxy for layoffs.

The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out some of the week-to-week volatility, rose by 1,250 to 207,500.

Overall, 1.79 million people were collecting unemployment benefits the week that ended Oct. 14, about 63,000 more than the previous week.

In an effort to stem persistent inflation, the Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate 11 times since March of 2022. The central bank’s goal is to cool the economy and labor market and bring down rising wages, which it says feeds inflation. However, the labor market and the broader economy have held up better than expected.

In September, employers added 336,000 jobs, raising the average gain for each of the past three months to a robust 266,000. Though the unemployment rate rose from 3.5% to 3.8% last month, that’s mostly due to the fact that about 736,000 people resumed their search for employment. Only people who are actively looking for a job are counted as unemployed.

Other surprising data from the labor market showed that in August, American employers posted 9.6 million job openings, up from 8.9 million in July. It was far more than economists had expected and the first uptick in three months.

Most analysts expect that the Fed will stand pat with no interest rate increase at its meeting next week as it tries to achieve a so-called “soft landing” – bringing inflation down to its goal of 2% without causing a recession.

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