Fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the labor market remains tight, even as the Federal Reserve has tried to cool the economy and inflation by raising interest rates.
Applications for jobless aid in the U.S. for the week ending Jan. 21 fell by 6,000 last week to 186,000, from 192,000 the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. It’s the first time in nine months that number has been below 200,000 in back-to-back weeks.
The four-week moving average of claims, which flattens out some of the week-to-week volatility, declined by 9,250 to 197,500. It’s the first time that number has been below 200,000 since May of last year.
Jobless claims generally serve as a proxy for layoffs, which have been relatively low since the pandemic wiped out millions of jobs in the spring of 2020.
The labor market is closely monitored by the Federal Reserve, which raised interest rates seven times last year in a bid to slow the economy, job growth and bring down stubbornly high inflation.
Earlier this month, the government reported that U.S. employers added a solid 223,000 jobs in December, evidence that the economy remains healthy even as the Fed is rapidly raising interest rates to try to slow economic growth and the pace of hiring. The unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, matching a 53-year low.
Courtesy AP. By Matt Ott.