New claims for jobless benefits rose last week but remain well below highs… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )
WASHINGTON -- New claims for jobless benefits rose moderately last week but remained at levels well below recent highs, suggesting no big change in layoffs ahead of the important jobs report for July to be issued Friday.
The Labor Department said Thursday that 365,000 workers filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ending July 28. That was an increase of 8,000 from the prior week.
Analysts were expecting a bigger weekly increase in filings. Looking at the data over a longer period, to smooth out some of the week-to-week volatility, initial jobless claims averaged 365,500 over the last four weeks ending Saturday. That's a drop of 2,750 from the four-week moving average of the prior week and down considerably from the upper 380,000 range in late May and much of June.
The improving trend in jobless filings heartened some analysts, but others pointed out that the problem with the job market hasn't been layoffs. It's weak hiring by employers, some of whom are reacting to slowing sales while many others are reluctant to add staff, given uncertainties about Europe and the fiscal and political outlook at home.
The U.S. economy added an average of just 75,000 jobs a month in the second quarter -- a sharp drop from the 225,000 average in the first quarter. Economists expect Friday's report to show that employers created a net 100,000 jobs in July, better than June but barely enough to keep up with the natural growth in the workforce population.
At that level of job growth, the unemployment rate is likely to remain stuck at an uncomfortably high 8.2%.
US Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance data by YCharts
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