The number of people filing for unemployment benefits edged up slightly last week, but it was near its lowest level since before the recession of 2007-2009, which could be a hopeful sign for the U.S. economy, according to experts.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose by 5,000 last week, reaching a total of 333,000 claims, according to the Labor Department release on Thursday. Economists who had been polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to increase to 336,000 during the week, so the actual claims were 3,000 less than experts predicted.
July is a volatile month as many plants have regular shutdowns for retooling, which makes it difficult for the government agencies to adjust the data because of the seasonal swings. But July and its volatility has now passed, and the Labor Department said there is not anything unusual in the data for the last week. According to the Labor Department, no state had provided estimates regarding their numbers.
Most experts look at the four week average for a clearer look at the labor market’s underlying health, has fallen to its lowest level since 2007, which was just before the U.S. fell into a calamitous recession. The labor market is also under close scrutiny of the Federal Reserve, which is expected to begin the reduction of its bond buying program as early as its next meeting, which is set for September.
The unemployment claims report showed that the number of people who are still receiving benefits through regular state programs after one initial week of assistance rose 67,000 to 3.018 million during the week that ended on July 27.
This report comes on the heels of a report that had jobless claims at a five-and-a-half year low. Just the previous week, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000, which was the lowest level since January 2008, according to the Labor Department.
Claims for the prior week had been revised to show 2,000 more applications had been received than previously reported. During that time, the four week moving average for new claims fell 4,500 to 341,250.
Experts say overall, the job market looks promising, as claims are still down overall and as jobs have been created. Others note, however, the jobs that have been created are considered lower paying jobs, so they will not impact the economy as much as many would like for them to do.
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