Saturday, April 20, 2024

U.S. applications for jobless claims rise in a labor market that remains very healthy

by BIZ Magazine

More Americans filed for jobless claims last week, but the labor market remains broadly healthy in the face of retreating inflation and elevated interest rates.

Applications for unemployment benefits rose by 13,000 to 231,000 for the week ending Nov. 11, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That’s the most in three months.

Jobless claim applications are seen as representative of the number of layoffs in a given week.

The four-week moving average of claims, a less volatile measure, rose by 7,750 to 220,250.

Overall, 1.87 million people were collecting unemployment benefits the week that ended Nov. 4, about 32,000 more than the previous week and the most since March.

Analysts suggest that those so-called “continuing claims,” are steadily rising because many of those who are already unemployed may now be having a harder time finding new work.

Still, the American labor market continues to show resiliency in the midst of the Federal Reserve’s campaign to get inflation back down to its 2% target.

Though Fed officials opted to leave the benchmark rate alone at their most recent policy meeting, the U.S. central bank has raised rates 11 times since March of 2022 in an effort to tame inflation, which reached a four-decade high in 2022. Part of the Fed’s goal is too cool the economy and labor market, which officials say should slow price growth.

It’s been a long slog, but it the Fed’s actions appear to be working.

Overall inflation didn’t rise from September to October, the first time that consumer prices collectively haven’t budged from one month to another in more than a year. Compared with a year earlier, prices rose 3.2% in October, the smallest such rise since June, though still above the Fed’s 2% inflation target.

The Labor Department reported earlier this month that employers posted 9.6 million job openings in September, up from 9.5 million in August. Layoffs fell to 1.5 million from 1.7 million.

U.S. private employers slowed their hiring in October, adding a modest but still decent 150,000 jobs.

Last month’s job growth, though down sharply from a robust 297,000 gain in September, was solid enough to suggest that many companies still want to hire and that the economy remains strong.

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