More Americans are applying for unemployment benefits; Layoffs still low | Economic news

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By MATT OTT, AP Business Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, but layoffs remain at historic lows.

Unemployment claims rose by 14,000 to 202,000 for the week ending March 26, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The previous week’s tally of 188,000 claims was the lowest since 1969. Early claims for unemployment aid generally keep pace with layoffs.

The four-week average of claims, which offsets weekly volatility, fell to 208,500 from 212,000 the previous week.

A total of 1,307,000 Americans received unemployment assistance for the week ending March 19, the fewest since December 1969.

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Employers added a solid 678,000 jobs in February, according to recent government data, the largest monthly total since July. The jobless rate fell to 3.8% from 4% in January, extending a sharp drop in unemployment to its lowest level since before the pandemic erupted two years ago. The government releases March employment data on Friday.

Job postings hit a near-record high in February, little change from the previous month, continuing a trend that Federal Reserve officials see as a driver of inflation. There were 11.3 million jobs available last month, matching January’s figure and just below December’s record of 11.4 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

The number of Americans quitting their jobs was also historically high, at 4.4 million, down from 4.3 million in January. More than 4.5 million people arrested in November, most on cases dating back two decades.

The Federal Reserve launched a high-risk effort two weeks ago to rein in the worst inflation since the early 1980s, raising its benchmark short-term interest rate and signaling up to six hikes additional rates this year.

The quarter-point hike in its key rate, which it had pinned near zero since the start of the pandemic recession two years ago, marks the start of its efforts to rein in the high inflation that followed the exit. of recession. Rate hikes will eventually mean higher lending rates for many consumers and businesses.

Central bank policymakers have forecast inflation to remain high at 4.3% through 2022.

Earlier this month, the government announced that consumer inflation jumped 7.9% over the past year, the biggest rise since 1982.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week fell to its lowest level in 52 years as the US labor market continues to show strength amid rising costs and a virus pandemic in Classes.

Unemployment claims fell 28,000 to 187,000 for the week ending March 19, the lowest since September 1969, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The first applications for unemployment assistance generally follow the rhythm of layoffs.

The four-week average of claims, which offset weekly volatility, also fell to levels not seen in five decades. The Labor Department said the four-week moving average fell to 211,750 from 223,250 the previous week.

A total of 1,350,000 Americans were receiving unemployment assistance the week ending March 12, another five-decade low.

Earlier this month, the government announced that employers added 678,000 jobs in February, the highest monthly total since July. The jobless rate fell to 3.8% from 4% in January, extending a sharp drop in unemployment to its lowest level since before the pandemic erupted two years ago.

U.S. businesses posted a near-record level of job openings in January – 11.3 million – a trend that has helped boost workers’ wages and add to inflationary pressures.

The Federal Reserve launched a high-risk effort last week to rein in the worst inflation since the early 1980s, raising its benchmark short-term interest rate and signaling up to six more rate hikes this year.

The quarter-point hike in its key rate, which it had pinned near zero since the start of the pandemic recession two years ago, marks the start of its efforts to rein in the high inflation that followed the exit. of recession. Rate hikes will eventually mean higher lending rates for many consumers and businesses.

Central bank policymakers have forecast inflation to remain elevated, ending 2022 at 4.3%.

Earlier this month, the government announced that consumer inflation jumped 7.9% over the past year, the biggest rise since 1982.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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