Jobless claims rise after hitting lowest level since 1968
New weekly applications for jobless aid rose last week after reaching the lowest level since 1968, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department.
In the week ending April 9, seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled 185,000, up 18,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 167,000. Last week’s total was revised up by 1,000 claims but remains the lowest weekly level of seasonally adjusted jobless claims in more than 50 years.
Layoffs have remained near five-decade lows for most of 2022 as employers race to fill a record number of open jobs. The U.S. added nearly 1.7 million jobs this year, with job openings outnumbering unemployed job-seekers by almost 2 to 1.
Resilient consumer spending has fueled an intense need for more workers, even with annual inflation at four-decade highs. Employers have struggled to hire and retain employees as job-seekers enjoy unprecedented leverage to find new gigs with better compensation and career opportunities.
President Biden and Democrats had been counting on a strong labor market to help sell voters on the success of their economic agenda, including the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill enacted in March 2021. But voters have become increasingly concerned with the surging inflation accompanying the recovery, particularly after annual inflation reached 8.5 percent in March.
The Federal Reserve last month kicked off a series of planned interest rate hikes meant to cool inflation without derailing the strong economy. While Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has expressed confidence the bank can limit price growth without causing a recession, economists say the Fed is facing growing obstacles from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and COVID-19 shutdowns.