Fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week


WASHINGTON (TBEN) — Fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, but last week’s number was revised significantly upwards, with claims crossing 250,000 in consecutive weeks for the first time in more than eight months.

Jobless aid applications for the week ending July 23 fell by 5,000 to 256,000 from 261,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The number of claims for the week of July 16 was revised upwards by 10,000 from the previous estimate of 251,000.

First job applications generally reflect layoffs.

The four-week average for claims, which is smoothing out some of the week-to-week volatility, rose 6,250 from the previous week to 249,500. That number is also at the highest level since November last year.

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The total number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits for the week ending July 16 fell by 25,000 from the previous week to 1,359,000. That figure has been near its 50-year low for months now.

Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that employers added 372,000 jobs in June, a surprisingly hefty gain and comparable to the pace of the previous two months. Economists had expected job growth to slow sharply last month, given general signs of economic weakness.

The unemployment rate remained at 3.6% for the fourth straight month, corresponding to the lowest point reached in nearly 50 years before the pandemic hit in early 2020.

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Earlier in July, the government reported that U.S. employers announced job cuts in May amid signs that the economy was weakening, although overall demand for workers remained strong. There are almost two vacancies for every unemployed person.

While the labor market is still considered strong, other indicators point to some weakness in the US economy. The government said Thursday that the US economy contracted 0.9% in the second quarter, the second consecutive quarterly contraction.

Consumer prices are still rising, by 9.1% in June compared to a year earlier, the largest annual increase in four decades. In response, the Federal Reserve raised its key lending rate by another three-quarters point on Wednesday. That follows last month’s rise of three quarters of a point and a rise of half a point in May.

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Those higher rates have already sent home sales tumbling, toughening the prospect of buying a new car, and pushing credit card rates up.

All of these factors paint a diverse and confusing picture of the post-pandemic economy: inflation is pushing household budgets to the brink, forcing consumers to pay back, and growth is weakening, raising fears that the economy could slip into recession. .

While the job market is still strong, some high-profile layoffs were recently announced by Tesla, Netflix, Carvana, Redfin and Coinbase.