U.S. Jobless Claims Inch Up Less Than Expected To 220,000

A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits edged up by less than expected in the week ended September 9th.

The report said initial jobless claims crept up to 220,000, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 217,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 225,000 from the 216,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The smaller-than-expected uptick came a week after jobless claims dipped to their lowest level since the week ended February 18.

“Initial jobless claims were little changed last week, a reminder that, while there is some evidence that labor market conditions are loosening, the job market is still characterized by very few layoffs,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.

She added, “We expect some increase in layoffs later in the year as the economy slows but look for job losses to be relatively modest compared to prior recessions.”

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average edged down to 224,500, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 229,500.

The report also said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, inched up by 4,000 to 1.688 million in the week September 2nd.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims still slipped to 1,697,000, a decrease of 5,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,702,750.

“The claims data don’t change our call for the Fed to hold policy steady at next week’s FOMC meeting or our view that the Fed is done raising rates,” said Vanden Houten.

She added, “The risks are still tilted toward more rate hikes, however, and the latest data on the consumer and inflation may have increased those risks slightly.”

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