Washington: More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week and while layoffs remain low, it was the fifth consecutive week that claims topped the 230,000 mark and the most in almost six months.
Applications for jobless aid for the week ending July 2 rose to 235,000, up 4,000 from the previous week and the most since mid-January, the Labour Department reported on Thursday.
First-time applications generally track with the number of layoffs. Until early June, claims hadn’t eclipsed 220,000 since January and have often been below 200,000 this year.
The four-week average for claims, which evens out some of the week-to-week volatility, inched up by 750 from the previous week, to 232,500.
The total number of Americans collecting jobless benefits for the week ending June 25 rose by 51,000 from the previous week, to 1,375,000. That figure has hovered near 50-year lows for months.
On Wednesday, the Labour Department reported that US employers advertised fewer jobs in May amid signs that the economy is weakening, though the overall demand for workers remained strong.
Employers posted 11.3 million job openings at the end of May, down from nearly 11.7 million in April. Job openings reached 11.9 million in March, the highest level on records dating back more than 20 years. There are nearly two job openings for every unemployed person.
The figures reflect the unusual nature of the post-pandemic economy: Inflation is hammering household budgets, forcing consumers to pull back on spending, and growth is weakening, heightening fears the economy could fall into recession.
Yet companies are still scrambling to add workers. Demand has been particularly strong in travel- and entertainment-related services.
The Labour Department releases its May jobs report on Friday and analysts expect that employers filled more than 276,000 jobs. Though not an unhealthy number, it would be the lowest monthly figure in more than a year.
Some highly-visible companies have announced layoffs recently.
The CEO of electric car maker Tesla, Elon Musk, acknowledged that the company was cutting about 10 per cent of its salaried workforce, or 3.5 per cent of its total headcount.
Netflix laid off 150 employees in May and another 300 in June after the streaming entertainment giant reported losing subscribers for the first time in more than a decade.
Online automotive retailer Carvana is letting about 2,500 workers go, roughly 12 per cent of its workforce.
Online real estate broker Redfin, under pressure from a housing market that’s cooled due to higher interest rates, is laying off 8 per cent of its workers. Another real estate company, Compass, is shedding 450 employees.
Crypto trading platform Coinbase Global is cutting about 1,100 jobs, about 18 per cent of its global workforce, in the wake of collapsing cryptocurrency prices.