U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Climb Back Above 1 Million

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First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly increased in the week ended August 15th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 1.106 million, an increase of 135,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 971,000.

The increase surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to drop to 925,000 from the 963,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average fell to 1,175,750, a decrease of 79,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,254,750.

The report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also tumbled by 636,000 to 14.844 million in the week ended August 8th.

“The decline suggests that some rehiring is occurring, which is encouraging,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.

She added, “However, the number of individuals claiming benefits remains extraordinarily high – more than twice the peak of the Great Recession – underscoring that the labor market is a long way from being healthy.”

The four-week moving average of continuing claims also dropped to 15,841,250, a decrease of 326,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 16,168,000.


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