WASHINGTON – The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 367,000, a level consistent with only modest hiring.
Weekly applications increased last week by 4,000 from the previous week’s level of 363,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The previous week was revised higher from an initial reading of 359,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, was unchanged at 375,000.
Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc., said the figures are “consistent with a soft but by no means collapsing labor market.”
Unemployment benefit applications are a measure of the pace of layoffs. When they consistently fall below 375,000, it typically indicates that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.
Applications have mostly stayed near or above that level since the spring, coinciding with a weak stretch of hiring.