U.S. Jobless Claims Rise After Hitting a 48-Year Low
By Sharon Nunn and Sarah Chaney
WASHINGTON--The number of Americans filing applications for new unemployment benefits rose last week, ticking up from the lowest level since 1969.
Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., rose by 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 231,000 in the week ended March 3, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected 220,000 new claims last week.
Previously, unemployment benefit applications fell to their lowest level since December 1969, signaling an already tight labor market may have had more slack to pick up and businesses may be struggling to find and retain talent.
The recent trend "is consistent with the idea that labor is so scarce that firms have raised the bar for letting people go," Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note to clients last week.
Moreover, unemployment claims have remained below 300,000, a level economists consider healthy, for about three years. This is the longest stretch since a similar run that ended in 1970, when the U.S. workforce was far smaller than it is today.
Still, claims data can be volatile. The four-week moving average, a steadier measure, increased 2,000 to 222,500 last week.
But the number of claims workers made for longer than a week fell, declining to 1,870,000 in the week ended Feb. 24; continuing claims are released with a one-week lag.
The unemployment rate has been parked for months at 4.1%, a 17-year low. Economists surveyed by the Journal expect the Labor Department on Friday will report the jobless rate ticked down to 4% in February, alongside continued hiring and wage growth.
The Labor Department's latest report on jobless claims can be accessed at: https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf
Write to Sharon Nunn at email@example.com and Sarah Chaney at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 08, 2018 08:45 ET (13:45 GMT)Copyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.