US unemployment historically low despite rise of jobless claims

U.S. applications for jobless benefits rose to their highest level in more than a year but remain at relatively low levels, despite efforts by the Federal Reserve to cool the economy and job market in its battle against inflation, as stated in an article from the Associated Press.

Jobless claims in the U.S. for the week ending April 8 rose by 11,000 to 239,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week moving average of claims, which evens out some of the week-to-week fluctuations, rose by 2,250 to 240,000.

America’s employers added a solid 236,000 jobs in March, suggesting that the economy remains on solid footing despite the nine interest rate hikes the Federal Reserve has imposed over the past year in its drive to tame inflation. The unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, just above the 53-year low of 3.4% set in January. Last week, the Labor Department reported that U.S. job openings slipped to 9.9 million in February, the fewest since May 2021.

In its latest quarterly projections, the Fed predicts that the unemployment rate will rise to 4.5% by year’s end, a sizable increase historically associated with recessions. Layoffs have been mounting in the technology sector, where many companies hired aggressively during the pandemic. IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, Twitter, and DoorDash have all announced layoffs in recent months. Amazon and Facebook have each announced two sets of job cuts since November.

About 1.81 million people were receiving jobless aid the week that ended April 1, a decrease of 13,000 from the week before. That number is close to pre-pandemic levels.