More Americans apply for unemployment benefits last week

More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but the total number of people collecting unemployment benefits is at its lowest level in more than 50 years.

WASHINGTON — More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but the total number of people receiving unemployment benefits is at its lowest level in more than 50 years.

US jobless claims rose by 19,000 to 200,000 in the week ending April 30, the Labor Department said Thursday. The first entries usually reflect the number of layoffs.

The four-week average for claims, which smooths out some of the weekly volatility, rose 8,000 from the previous week to 188,000.

The total number of Americans who collected unemployment benefits in the week ending April 23 dropped by 19,000 from the previous week to 1,384,000. That’s the lowest number since January 17, 1970.

On Tuesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that US employers posted a record 11.5 million job openings in March – two unprecedented openings for every unemployed person. A record 4.5 million Americans left their jobs in March – a sign they are confident they can find better pay or better working conditions elsewhere.

Employers created an average of more than 540,000 jobs a month last year, pushing the unemployment rate to 3.6%. The Labor Department is expected to report on Friday that the economy added another 400,000 new jobs in April, according to a survey by data firm FactSet. This would mark an unprecedented 12th straight month in which hirings reached 400,000 or more.

The only thing hotter than the job market is inflation. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve stepped up its fight against the worst inflation in 40 years, raising its short-term interest rate by half a percentage point – its most aggressive move since 2000 – and signaling further rate hikes.

The Fed’s base rate hike lifted it to a range of 0.75% to 1%, the highest point since the pandemic hit two years ago.

The Commerce Department said last month that the US economy shrank in the last quarter for the first time since the pandemic recession two years ago, contracting at an annual rate of 1.4% even as consumers and businesses continued to spend in a signal. of underlying resilience.

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