The number of Americans applying for last week rose to the highest level in more than eight months in what may be a sign that the labor market is weakening.
Applications for jobless aid for the week ending July 16 rose by 7,000 to 251,000, up from the previous week’s 244,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That’s the most since Nov. 13, 2021 when 265,000 Americans applied for benefits.
First-time applications generally reflect layoffs.
The four-week average for claims, which smooths out some of the week-to-week volatility, rose by 4,500 from the previous week, to 240,500.
The total number of Americans collecting jobless benefits for the week ending July 9 rose by 51,000 from the previous week, to 1,384,000. That figure has been near 50-year lows for months.
Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that employers added 372,000 jobs in June, a surprisingly robust gain and similar to the pace of the previous two months. Economists had expected job growth to slow sharply last month given the broader signs of economic weakness.
The unemployment rate remained 3.6% for a fourth straight month, matching a near-50-year low that was reached before the pandemic struck in early 2020.