U.S. jobless claims increase while remaining near 48-year low

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(Bloomberg) – U.S. filings for unemployment benefits rose by the most in six weeks while still hovering near historically low levels that indicate a tight job market, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Jobless Claims (Week Ended May 12)

Jobless claims increased by 11k to 222k (est. 215k) Continuing claims fell by 87k to 1.707m in week ended May 5 (data reported with one-week lag); lowest since Dec. 1973 Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, fell to 213,250 from the prior week’s 216,000; lowest since Dec. 1969

Key Takeaways

Even with the weekly increase, claims remain near the lowest in almost five decades, indicating the labor market remains robust. Job openings reached a record high in March, and a widespread, persistent shortage of qualified workers is causing employers to retain staff, sometimes using bonuses and non-financial perks to keep people in key roles.

Economists may focus more on the latest results because they reflect the week containing the 12th of the month, which is the reference period for the Labor Department’s May jobs report due June 1.

Other Details

Prior week’s reading unrevised at 211,000 Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits fell to 1.2% from 1.3% Colorado, Maine had estimated claims last week, according to the Labor Department

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