US applications for jobless claims fall to lowest level in 9 weeks


Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as the labor market continues to hold up despite higher interest rates imposed by the Federal Reserve in its bid to curb inflation.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that unemployment claims for the week ending April 20 fell by 5,000 to 207,000 from 212,000 the previous week. That’s the fewest since mid-February.

The four-week average of claims, which smooths out some of the weekly up-and-downs, ticked down by 1,250 to 213,250.

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 the pandemic purge of millions of jobs in the spring of 2020.

The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark borrowing rate 11 times beginning in March of 2022 in a bid to stifle the four-decade high inflation that took hold after the economy rebounded from the COVID-19 recession four years ago. The Fed’s intention was to loosen the labor market and slow wage growth, which it said contributed to persistently high inflation.

Many economists thought there was a chance the rapid rate hikes could cause a recession, but jobs have remained plentiful and the economy surged on strong consumer spending.

Last month, U.S. employers added a surprising 303,000 jobs, yet another example of the U.S. economy’s resilience in the face of high interest rates. The unemployment rate dipped from 3.9% to 3.8% and has now remained below 4% for 26 straight months, the longest such streak since the 1960s.

Though layoffs remain at low levels, companies have been announcing more job cuts recently, mostly across technology and media. Google parent company Alphabet, Apple, eBay, TikTok, Snap, Amazon, Cisco Systems and the Los Angeles Times have all recently announced layoffs.

Outside of tech and media, UPS, Macy’s, Tesla and Levi Strauss also have recently cut jobs.

In total, 1.78 million Americans were collecting jobless benefits during the week that ended April 13. That’s 15,000 fewer than the previous week.

Source: post

No posts to display