The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week increased from a three-month low, consistent with the Federal Reserve’s view of a stronger job market.
The Labor Department said on Thursday that initial claims for unemployment benefits rose 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 266,000 for the week ended July 23. The prior week Claims were revised to show 1,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.
Hiring managers are reluctant to pare staff as the labor market tightens and demand continues to expand in the face of subdued global growth prospects. Fed policy makers on Wednesday mentioned a rebound in June employment and took a step toward interest rates hike before the end of 2016.
“Claims at this point are telling you that you’re really near full employment,” said Brett Ryan, an economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York. “There’s no evidence that layoffs are picking up. The labor market’s chugging along.”
Jobless claims have been steadily falling from their spring of 2009 peak. They touched a four-decade low in April and have remained below 300,000 for 73 straight weeks, the longest such streak since 1973, when the U.S. workforce was far smaller than it is today. Low levels of claims typically coincide with ongoing job creation, though hiring appears to have slowed in recent months.
In addition, the survey of improvement in households’ perceptions of labor market conditions showing the unemployment rate could decline this month after rising two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.9 percent in June.