US jobless benefits claims rise in late April
Washington (AFP) – New claims for US jobless benefits rose for the second straight week in late April but continued a record stretch of low levels, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
The figures underscored the tightening US labor market, where unemployment currently sits at 4.5 percent and companies are reporting trouble finding workers to fill positions, even for lower skilled jobs.
For the week ended April 22, new applications for unemployment insurance rose 14,000 from the prior week to 257,000, seasonally adjusted. Analysts had expected the level to remain virtually unchanged.
The Labor Department’s weekly figure has remained below 300,000 claims for 112 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1970. The less volatile four-week average fell to 242,250, its lowest level since February.
Meanwhile, the overall number of people receiving jobless benefits rose to 1,988,000 million, up 10,000 from the prior week’s level, which was a 17-year low. The four-week moving average for continuing claims likewise reached a 17-year low at 2,007,250 continuing claims.
Though the weekly figures can be volatile, they can also help measure the prevalence of layoffs and the health of jobs markets.
Economists say the US is at or approaching full employment, with companies dissuaded from laying workers off for fear they may not be able to replace them.
In its most recent “beige book” survey of the economy, the Federal Reserve said this month that employers report difficulty in filling new positions and are having to offer higher wages and benefits in some cases.