Fewer Americans are filing for unemployment assistance

WASHINGTON– Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as the US labor market remains robust despite four decades of high inflation and a myriad of other economic pressures.

Unemployment assistance claims for the week ending June 18 fell to 229,000, down 2,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The first applications generally reflect the number of layoffs.

The four-week average for claims, which dampens some of the week-to-week volatility, rose 4,500 from the previous week to 223,500.

The total number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits for the week ending June 11 was 1,315,000, up 5,000 from the previous week. That figure has hovered near 50-year lows for months.

Much of the recent job security and wage gains that Americans have enjoyed recently have been offset by levels of inflation not seen in four decades.

Earlier in June, the Labor Department reported that consumer prices jumped 8.6% last month — even more than in April — from a year earlier. The Federal Reserve reacted last week by raising its main borrowing rate – its main tool in the fight against rising prices – by three-quarters of a point. This increase comes on top of a half-point increase at the start of May.

Three weeks ago, the government announced that U.S. employers added 390,000 jobs in May, extending a strong hiring streak that has supported a strained economy. Although job growth in May was healthy, it was the weakest monthly gain in a year and there were signs that more layoffs could occur, at least in some sectors.

Jobless claims in recent weeks, although still relatively low, are the highest since the first weeks of 2022.

Online car retailer Carvana said last month it was laying off about 2,500 workers, or around 12% of its workforce. Online property broker Redfin, under pressure from a cooling housing market due to rising interest rates, said last week it was laying off 8% of its employees.

These reductions have extended to companies in the cryptocurrency sector, as the prices of bitcoin and other digital assets have skyrocketed in recent months.

Crypto trading platform Coinbase Global announced last week that it planned to cut around 1,100 jobs, or around 18% of its global workforce, as part of a restructuring to help manage its operating expenses. operating in response to current market conditions.

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