US jobless claims, continuing claims rise, suggesting a softening jobs market

The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits increased more than expected last week and the number of people on unemployment rolls increased to a 10-month high, suggesting some slowing in the labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 225,000 for the week ended Feb. 23, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior week was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

The Labor Department said no states were estimated. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 220,000 in the latest week. The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 7,000 to 229,000 last week.

The claims report showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid increased 79,000 to 1.81 million for the week ended Feb. 16, the highest level since April 2018. The four-week moving average of these so-called continuing claims rose 6,750 to 1.76 million.

The continuing claims data covered the week of the household survey from which February’s unemployment rate will be calculated. The four-week average of claims rose 31,750 between the January and February survey periods. The jobless rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.0 percent in January.


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