US jobless claims rose modestly this week after hitting an eight-month low last week, as the labor market continued to defy the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes aimed at cooling this.
US unemployment insurance claims rose 2,000 to 204,000 for the week ending Sept. 23, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Last week’s number was the lowest since January.
Claims for unemployment assistance are considered an indicator of the number of layoffs in a week.
The four-week moving average of claims, a less volatile measure, fell 6,250 to 211,000.
Although the Federal Reserve chose not to change its benchmark borrowing rate last week, it is now in the second year of its fight to end four decades of high inflation. Part of the Fed’s goal in that fight is to cool the labor market and reduce wages, but so far that hasn’t happened.
The 11 interest rate hikes since March last year have helped slow price growth, but the US economy and the labor market remain better than many expected.
Earlier this month, the government reported that American employers added 187,000 jobs in August. Although the unemployment rate rose to 3.8%, it remains below historical levels.
The US economy has added an average of about 236,000 jobs per month this year, down from the pandemic surge of the past two years but still considered a strong number.
Aside from some layoffs earlier this year — mostly in the technology sector — companies are trying to keep the workforce.