U.S. Jobless Claims Rise but Remain Historically Low

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Although the number of Americans applying for unemployment insurance benefits increased last week, claims remain at historically low levels, reflecting tightening labor market conditions as the economy continues to recover. In the week-ending December 11, unemployment claims totaled a seasonally adjusted 206,000, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor. That was an increase of 18,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 188,000 which was the lowest level for initial claims since 1969. Initial claims, a proxy for layoffs, have been gradually trending down since the start of 2020 when claims topped 900,000. The most recent figure was higher than the 195,000 initial claims economists were projecting but were below the average of roughly 218,000 claims filed per week in 2019, prior to the pandemic. The four-week average, which smooths out changes from week to week, dropped by roughly 16,000 last week to around 204,000, the lowest level since 1969. Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 92.1 million initial unemployment insurance claims have been filed in the U.S.