U.S. applications for jobless claims rose slightly last week but remain at healthy levels with companies reticent to let go of employees in a tight labor market.
The number of Americans filing for jobless claims for the week ending May 20 rose by 4,000 to 229,000 from 225,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The previous week's number was revised down by a significant 17,000.
The weekly claims numbers are broadly as representative of the number of U.S. layoffs.
The four-week moving average of claims, which evens out some of the week-to-week gyrations, was unchanged at 231,750 after the previous week's number was revised down by 12,500. Analysts have pointed to a sustained increase in the four-week averages as a sign that layoffs are accelerating, but are reluctant to predict that a spike in layoffs is imminent.
Overall, 1.8 million people were collecting unemployment benefits the week that ended May 13, about 5,000 more than the previous week.
Since the pandemic purge of millions of jobs three years ago, the U.S. economy has added jobs at a breakneck pace and Americans have enjoyed unusual job security. That’s despite interest rates that have been rising for more than a year and fears of a looming recession.