Unemployment Claims Rise Slightly

Two weeks ago, the number of first-time applicants filing for unemployment assistance dropped to their lowest level in seven months.

Last week, they ticked back up.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week rose slightly after falling to the lowest level in seven months the week before, as companies continue to retain employees despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts to cool the economy.

According to statistics released by the Labor department, U.S. applications for jobless claims rose by 3,000 to 220,000 for the week ending Sept. 9.

The four-week moving average of claims fell by 5,000 to 224,500.

In its efforts to battle inflation, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates 11 times since March 2022. At 5.4%, the Fed’s benchmark borrowing rate is at the highest level in 22 years.

The Fed’s rate hikes are meant to cool the job market and bring down wages. Some measures of inflation have retreated significantly — from as much as 9% down closer to 3% — since the Fed starting raising interest rates.

Earlier this month, the government reported that U.S. employers added 187,000 jobs in August, another sign of a healthy labor market. Though the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.8%, it’s still low by historical measures, the Associated Press reported.

Recent government data also showed that job openings dropped to 8.8 million in July, the fewest since March 2021 and down from 9.2 million in June. However, the numbers remain unusually robust considering monthly job openings never topped 8 million before 2021.