US Initial Jobless Claims Tick Up, Remain Near Historic Lows


Initial applications for US unemployment insurance rose last week by less than forecast, remaining near historic lows and indicating the labor market remains resilient as companies seek to retain employees.

First-time claims for benefits climbed by 2,000 to 205,000 in the week ended Dec. 16, according to Labor Department figures Thursday. Recurring claims were little changed in the week ended Dec. 9.

The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 215,000 initial claims.

Despite elevated interest rates, the economy has grown at a moderate pace this year as a resilient labor market helps underpin consumer spending.

Recurring applications had been trending higher in recent months, indicating Americans laid off by their employers were having a harder time finding new positions. The latest figures indicate continuing claims over the past three weeks have stabilized.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, which helps smooth weekly fluctuations of the weekly data, decreased to 212,000, the lowest level since October. Unemployment insurance data can be noisy near the end of the year due to the timing of holidays on the calendar.

Unadjusted data that don’t take seasonality into account showed initial claims dropped by 9,225 to 239,865. California and Georgia logged the largest declines during the week, while Ohio posted the biggest increase.

A separate report showed gross domestic product grew at a 4.9% annualized rate in the third quarter, less than the previously estimated 5.2%. Personal consumption, which accounts for about two-thirds of the economy, advanced at a downwardly revised 3.1% pace.

The data also showed a key gauge of underlying inflation increased at a 2% annualized pace in the July-September period, the slowest since the end of 2020. That reinforces the Federal Reserve’s pivot toward an outlook for lower interest rates in the coming quarters.

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