US jobless claims total 231,000 last week

Initial jobless claims ticked down last week, but were marginally higher than forecast, as investors continue to assess the labor market for potential signs of a slowdown.

First-time filings for unemployment insurance in the U.S. totaled 231,000 for the week ended June 25, falling slightly from the prior week's upwardly revised 233,000, the Department of Labor said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected the latest reading to come in at 230,000.

The 4-week moving average, which smooths out some weekly volatility in the data, was 231,750, an increase of 7,250 from the previous week's revised average, per the Labor Department.

Claims filed last week held near a five-month high but continue to show the labor market remains hot, even as tighter monetary conditions and persistent inflation raise worries that unemployment may spike.

Even after increases in the number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance in recent weeks, claims remain only slightly above pre-pandemic levels. Filings for unemployment insurance averaged about 218,000 per week throughout 2019.

The latest weekly employment report comes ahead of a busy week for labor market data after the July 4th holiday weekend, with the Labor Department's key monthly jobs report for June due out next Friday.

Employment levels have so far remained a bright spot in the U.S. economy as worries of a recession mount among strategists.

A sign for hire is posted on the window of a Chipolte Restaurant in New York City, U.S., April 29, 2022.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A sign for hire is posted on the window of a Chipolte Restaurant in New York City, U.S., April 29, 2022. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Wednesday that the U.S. economy shrank at an annualized pace of 1.6% in the first quarter, reflecting a deeper contraction than previously reported.

Moreover, Americans have been grappling with a surge in the cost of gas, food, and shelter, with consumer prices climbing 8.6% last month, the fastest rate since 1981.

Still, many economists have projected that unemployment will continue to hold below 4.0%. Last month, the economy created 390,000 news jobs and the unemployment rate came in at 3.6%.

"Defensive leadership indicates a recession is looming, yet we find this difficult to reconcile for 2022 given full employment in the U.S," Comerica Wealth Management Chief Investment Officer John Lynch said in a recent report.

"Full employment in the U.S. should prove a strong buffer against rising recessionary risks."

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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