First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rose by much more than expected in the week ended August 5th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 248,000, an increase of 21,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 227,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 230,000.
The Labor Department also said the less four-week moving average crept up to 231,000, an increase of 2,750 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 228,250.
Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, slipped by 8,000 to 1.684 million in the week ended July 29th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims also fell to 1,701,000, a decrease of 9,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,710,250.
“We think the Fed’s July rate hike will be the last of the cycle, but the risks are tilted in favor of one more rate hike if more evidence of a softer labor market doesn’t accumulate,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
She added, “The claims data can be noisy week to week, but if the latest increase is sustained it would be a sign of a further easing in labor market conditions.”
Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing employment in the U.S. increased by less than expected in the month of July.
The report said non-farm payroll employment climbed by 187,000 jobs in July after rising by a downwardly revised by 185,000 jobs in June.
Economists had expected employment to jump by 200,000 jobs compared to the addition of 209,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the unemployment rate edged down to 3.5 percent in July from 3.6 percent in June. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to remain unchanged.
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