New weekly applications for unemployment insurance rose last week for the first time since April, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department.
In the week ending June 12, seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims totaled 412,000, rising by 37,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 375,000. Claims had fallen in every consecutive week since the week ending May 1 before last, setting a series of new post-lockdown record lows.
The number of new applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance also jumped by 46,722 to a total of 118,025 last week. The program, which is set to expire in September, extended jobless aid to gig workers, contractors and others who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment insurance.
Overall, more than 14 million Americans were on some form of jobless aid during the week ending May 29, down from more than 30 million during the same time in 2020.
The uptick in jobless claims was a surprise after weeks of steady declines and a growing number of job openings available for unemployed workers. Even so, labor market experts said Thursday that the increase is no cause for concern.
"There is, however, a great deal of volatility in the weekly data," tweeted Heidi Shierholz, policy director at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.
"It is important not to put too much weight on one week," she continued. "Claims have been steadily coming down in recent months as the labor market strengthens, and I expect that to continue."
Analysts and government watchdogs have warned throughout the pandemic that backlogs and inconsistent reporting timelines among state unemployment offices have distorted the actual number of jobless claims.
Updated at 8:55 a.m.