May 28th, 2024

US applications for jobless benefits come back down after last week’s 9-month high

By Matt Ott, The Associated Press on May 16, 2024.

A hiring sign is displayed at a restaurant in Northbrook, Ill., Thursday, May 2, 2024. On Thursday, May 16, 2024, the Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as layoffs remain at historically low levels even as other signs that the labor market is cooling have surfaced.

Jobless claims for the week ending May 11 fell by 10,000 to 222,000, down from 232,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Last week’s applications were the most since the final week of August 2023, though it’s still a relatively low number of layoffs.

The four-week average of claims, which evens out some of the week-to-week fluctuations, rose by 2,500 to 217,750.

Weekly unemployment claims are considered a proxy for the number of U.S. layoffs in a given week and a sign of where the job market is headed. They have remained at historically low levels since millions of jobs were lost when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in the spring of 2020.

In total, 1.79 million Americans were collecting jobless benefits during the week that ended May 4. That’s up 13,000 from the previous week.

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