U.S. Jobless Claims Edge Higher

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Job seekers speaking with representatives during a career fair in Edison, N.J., on Sept. 20.

Job seekers speaking with representatives during a career fair in Edison, N.J., on Sept. 20.


Photo:

Gabby Jones/Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON—The number of Americans filing applications for new unemployment benefits rose last week but remained historically low and were consistent with a tight labor market.

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., increased by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 214,000 in the week ended Oct. 6, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 208,000 new claims last week.

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Jobless claims touched the lowest level since 1969 early last month before edging slightly higher after Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina. Some workers displaced by the storm were eligible to seek unemployment benefits.

The latest data doesn’t reflect any displacement from Hurricane Michael, which struck Florida this week.

The four-week moving average of claims, a more stable measure, rose by 2,500 to 209,500 last week. That is also just above a 49-year low.

More broadly, claims data shows that in a tight labor market employers are very reluctant to dismiss workers. The unemployment rate last month fell to 3.7%, also the lowest reading since 1969, and workers, particularly lower earners, are starting to see modestly higher raises.

The number of claims workers made for longer than a week increased by 4,000 to 1,660,000 in the week ended Sept. 29. The figure, also known as continuing claims, is reported with a one-week lag.

Write to Eric Morath at eric.morath@wsj.com and Harriet Torry at harriet.torry@wsj.com