Initial Jobless Claims Rise to Highest Level Since February
This morning, the Department of Labor reported that weekly initial jobless claims climbed to the highest level in five months, up 2,000 to 484,000, with last week’s number revised up to 482,000. That was nearly 20,000 higher than economists expected. The four-week average, which smooths out the jumpy weekly number, rose to 474,000, the highest since February.
Continuing unemployment claims declined slightly. But extended benefits swelled by 1.3 million, in response to Congress reauthorizing a federal extension at the end of July, restoring unemployment insurance benefits to millions who had lost them starting June 2.
Economists believe that initial claims need to fall well into the 300,000s to make a dent in the unemployment rate, which itself remains elevated and would be higher were it not for drop-outs from the labor force. The stall-out in the labor market recovery is discomfiting, and the picture seems to be getting worse, rather than better.