U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Rebound After Three Straight Drops

After reporting three straight weekly decreases in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing initial jobless claims unexpectedly increased in the week ended February 12th.

The report showed initial jobless claims rose to 248,000, an increase of 23,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 225,000.

The rebound surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to edge down to 219,000 from the 223,000 originally reported for the previous week.

“Despite the uptick, we expect initial claims to continue to grind back toward 200,000,” said Mahir Rasheed, U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.

He added, “Layoffs are expected to be minimal in a tight labor market where employers continue to face difficulty hiring workers.”

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average dipped to 243,250, a decrease of 10,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 253,750.

The report showed continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also fell by 26,000 to 1.593 million in the week ended February 5th.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims edged down to 1,626,250, a decrease of 7,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,634,000.

“For the last six weeks continued claims have remained below the pre-pandemic average of 1.71 million,” Rasheed said. “We expect continued claims to stay at these levels or decline further as health conditions improve and more workers return to the labor market.”

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