US Applications for Jobless Benefits Rise but Labor Market Remains Solid

More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but not enough to raise concern about the labor market or broader economy.

Jobless claims rose to 218,000 for the week ending Dec. 23, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week ups and downs, fell by 250 to 212,000.

Overall, 1.88 million Americans were collecting jobless benefits during the week that ended Dec. 16, an increase of 14,000 from the previous week.

Weekly unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. They have remained at extraordinarily low levels in the face of high interest rates.

The Federal Reserve started raising interest rates early last year to try to beat down the inflation that surged after an unusually strong economic rebound from the COVID-19 recession of 2020. The Fed has raised its benchmark rate 11 times since March of 2022.

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