Applications for unemployment insurance in the US last week plateaued near a five-month high, suggesting tightness in the labour market may be starting to ease.
Initial unemployment claims decreased by 2 000 to 229 000 in the week ended 18 June, Labor Department data showed on Thursday. The prior week’s figure was revised up slightly. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 226 000 applications.
The jobless claims four-week moving average, a measure which smooths out some of the volatility in the series, increased to 223 500, the highest since late January.
While the labour market remains strong and unemployment low, there are some signs of softening. Several companies, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Coinbase Global Inc., have announced layoffs in recent weeks. Meantime, recession fears are growing after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by the most since 1994 and signalled further tightening in an effort to tame inflation.
On an unadjusted basis, initial claims also fell slightly. Applications decreased in Illinois and Florida, while increasing in Michigan.
Continuing claims for state benefits were also little changed at 1.32 million in the week ended 11 June.
--With assistance from Jordan Yadoo.