Number of Americans searching for unemployment benefits ticked higher last week, hitting a nine-month high — the latest sign that the historically tight labor market is beginning to cool.
Figures published on Thursday by the Ministry of Labor show that applications for the week ending 6 August rose to 262,000 from the revised downwards of 248,000 registered a week earlier. That̵[ads1]7;s above the 2019 pre-pandemic average of 218,000 claims and marks the highest level since mid-November.
Continuing claims, or the number of Americans continuously receiving unemployment benefits, rose slightly to 1.428 million for the week ended July 30, up 8,000 from last week’s revised level. A year ago, nearly 12.96 million Americans received unemployment benefits.
For months, the labor market has been one of the few bright spots in the economy, with the July jobs report showing the unemployment rate fell to 3.5% – the lowest level since February 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down a wide swath of the US economy .
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However, there are signs that the job market is beginning to weaken, with a slew of companies, including Alphabet’s Google, Walmart, Apple, Meta and Microsoft, announcing hiring freezes or layoffs in recent weeks.
There are growing fears that the US economy is on the verge of – or already in – a recession as a result The Federal Reserve’s War on Inflation. The central bank is raising interest rates at the fastest pace in decades as it races to cool consumer prices, which climbed 8.5% in July — a big drop from June but still near a multi-decade high.
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The politicians approved another mega 75 basis point rate hike – triple the usual size – at their meeting in July and have since signaled they are “nowhere close” to ending this tightening cycle, despite signs of a slowdown in the economy.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.