Jobless claims are up to 220,000 and layoffs are even lower

Last updated: December 7, 2023 at 9:37 am ET

Originally published: December 7, 2023 at 8:34 am ET

The numbers: The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week was unchanged at 220,000, indicating that layoffs were minimal even as businesses cut hiring.

The government said Thursday that new jobless claims rose to 220,000 from a revised 219,000 the previous week. Economists had forecast a total of 222,000 for the week ending December 2.

Layoffs…

Numbers: The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week was unchanged at 220,000, indicating that layoffs were minimal even as businesses cut hiring.

New jobless claims rose to 220,000 from a revised 219,000 the previous week. The government said Thursday. Economists had forecast a total of 222,000 for the week ending December 2.

Layoffs are still historically low, but other reports show that businesses are hiring fewer people.

Key Details: New jobless claims increased in 49 states and territories that report these figures to the federal government. They fell in only four states.

Most states’ increases may have been overstated by the Thanksgiving holiday. Many who lost their jobs are waiting until next week to apply for benefits.

The effects of Thanksgiving were also evident in the number of actual claims — that is, before seasonal changes. They rose by nearly 94,000 to 293,511, marking the highest level since January.

However, a week ago, actual claims totaled less than 200,000.

Averaged over the past two weeks, actual jobless claims are in line with recent trends.

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Meanwhile, the number of people receiving unemployment benefits in the U.S. fell by 64,000 to 1.86 million. However, the gradual increase in so-called continuous claims is a sign that people are taking longer to find new jobs.

Economists say jobless claims tend to spike sharply around the holidays due to temporary hiring and should be judged with caution.

Big picture: Higher interest rates planned by the Federal Reserve to control inflation have finally slowed the economy and reduced demand for workers. Employment opportunities have steadily declined and businesses are not hiring as many workers

Companies are not cutting many jobs and laying off workers. As long as most people are working and unemployment is low, the economy will avoid trouble.

Looking ahead: “The claims data and other recent labor market statistics are consistent with a job market cooling enough to rule out further rate hikes,” Nancy Vanden Houten, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a note to clients.

Market Reaction: Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA

and the S&P 500

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Jupiter rises in trade.

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