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Jobless Claims Rose Modestly Last Week

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U.S. worker filings for unemployment benefits rose last week, reflecting a still tight labor market that has lost steam from earlier in the year.

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, increased to a seasonally adjusted 228,000 last week from the 219,000 the week before, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The recent level is up from March, when claims touched a more than 50-year low, but remain consistent with prepandemic levels and a tight labor market. The average weekly level of claims in 2019 was 218,000.

The four-week moving average for jobless claims, which smooths out weekly volatility, rose to a seasonally adjusted 211,500 last week.

The U.S. jobs market remains on strong footing, but has cooled in recent months. Employers added 263,000 jobs in September, the smallest monthly job gain this year, while the number of people in the labor force fell. Job openings, a proxy for labor demand, declined in August to their lowest levels in a year, while layoffs increased slightly that month.

More broadly, the U.S. economy is showing signs of slowing in response to the Federal Reserve lifting its benchmark interest rate in an effort to tame inflation that is running near 40-year highs.

“Sectors that are very sensitive to interest rates are going to continue to see weakness,” said

Stephen Stanley,

chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities, referring to the housing and financial sectors.

Conversely, Mr. Stanley said that industries still dealing with staffing shortages, such as tourism and food services, are going to have an appetite for hiring and will hesitate to lay off their workers amid economic uncertainty.

Continuing claims, a proxy for the number of people receiving continuing unemployment benefits, increased by 3,000 to 1.37 million in the week ended Oct. 1. Continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag.

U.S. firms are reshoring at the fastest pace in history, in part, due to the trade war with China and rising tariffs. But that may not translate into a big win for blue-collar American workers. WSJ’s Dion Rabouin explains. Illustration: David Fang

Write to Bryan Mena at [email protected]

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