WASHINGTON – More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but jobless claims remain at levels that suggest most workers enjoy job security.
The Labor Department said Thursday that claims for unemployment aid rose by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000, highest since early August. Still, claims came in below 300,000 for the 87th straight week, longest such streak since 1970 when the workforce was much smaller.
“The level of claims remains extremely low, signalling that businesses are keen to hang onto staff, presumably because they are fundamentally quite optimistic about business conditions,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a research note.
The less-volatile four-week average rose 4,750 to 257,750.
Overall, 2.03 million Americans are collecting unemployment checks, fewest since June 2000 and down more than 7 per cent from a year earlier.
Applications for jobless aid are a proxy for layoffs, and most employers have been holding onto staff. The unemployment rate was 5 per cent in September, close to what economists consider full employment.
But the pace of hiring has slowed this year. Employers have added an average 178,000 jobs a month so far in 2016, down from last year’s monthly average of 229,000.
The Labor Department releases hiring numbers for October on Friday. Economists expect to see an increase of 170,000 jobs and a drop in the unemployment rate to 4.9 per cent, according to a survey by the data firm FactSet.
The Commerce Department reported last week that the U.S. economy expanded at the fastest pace in two years from July through September, pulling out of a slump that began late last year.