U.S. Jobless Claims Rose, but Still Point to Expanding Labor Market

A job seeker filling out an application during a Louisville, Ky., employment fair on May 18. ENLARGE
A job seeker filling out an application during a Louisville, Ky., employment fair on May 18. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON—The number of Americans filing new applications for jobless benefits climbed last week, though the overall level remained consistent with a labor market that continues to expand.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., rose by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 266,000 in the week ended July 23, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 260,000 new claims. Claims for the week ended July 16 were revised down to 252,000.

Data on unemployment claims can be volatile from week to week. The Labor Department said no special factors affected last week’s figure.

Although the Labor Department adjusts for seasonal variation, auto factories typically shut down during the summer to retool, temporarily laying off workers and potentially causing distortions in the week-to-week numbers.

The four-week moving average, which helps even out short-run swings in the data, fell by 1,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 256,500.

Jobless claims have been steadily falling from their spring of 2009 peak. They touched a four-decade low in April and have remained below 300,000 for 73 straight weeks, the longest such streak since 1973, when the U.S. workforce was far smaller than it is today.

Low levels of claims typically coincide with ongoing job creation, though hiring appears to have slowed in recent months.

Write to Jeffrey Sparshott at [email protected]


WSJ.com: US Business

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