U.S. jobless claims fall for a fifth week amid strong labor demand

Keywords Unemployment

Applications for U.S. unemployment insurance fell for a fifth straight week, suggesting demand for workers remains healthy despite an uncertain economic outlook.

Initial unemployment claims decreased by 5,000, to 213,000, in the week ended Sept. 10, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 227,000 new applications.

The four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility from week to week, dropped to 224,000, the lowest since June.

Continuing claims rose slightly to 1.4 million in the week ended Sept. 3, still historically low.

Jobless claims have been dropping as employers are still trying to fill millions of open positions and retain the workers they already have. However, the trend may reverse course as the Federal Reserve pursues an aggressive path of interest-rate hikes to rein in demand across the economy, including for labor.

Data earlier this week showed consumer prices accelerated by more than forecast in August, cementing odds that the Fed will hike rates by another 75 basis points when it meets next week. A separate report Thursday showed U.S. retail sales unexpectedly rose in August after declining a month earlier, as the underlying picture of spending proved more mixed.

On an unadjusted basis, initial claims decreased by 9.8% to 155,961 last week. Filings dropped the most in California, Texas and New York. Massachusetts, which has been volatile in recent months, posted an outsized increase.

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