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U.S. Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Inch Up To Nearly Eight-Month High

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First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly inched higher in the week ended July 9th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

The report showed initial jobless claims crept up to 244,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 235,000. The uptick surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to come in unchanged.

With the unexpected increase, jobless claims reached their highest level since hitting a matching figure in the week ended November 20, 2021.

"While we think the risk is for further increases in claims as economic growth slows, we don't anticipate a sharp rise in new claims any time soon," said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.

She added, "While anecdotal reports of layoffs are increasing in some sectors, labor markets remain quite tight and demand for workers remains strong."

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also edged up to 235,750, an increase of 3,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 232,500.

Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, fell by 41,000 to 1.331 million in the week ended July 2nd.

"The decline was driven by a reversal in claims in Georgia, which had doubled in the prior week," said Vanden Houten. "We don't see further downside for continued claims, but don't foresee a significant rise either based on our outlook for job growth to continue and for more workers to return to the labor force."

The four-week moving average of continuing claims still crept up to 1,339,500, an increase of 5,250 from the previous week's revised average of 1,334,250.

Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing U.S. job growth exceeded economist estimates in the month of June.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment jumped by 372,000 jobs in June after surging by a revised 384,000 jobs in May.

Economists had expected employment to increase by 268,000 jobs compared to the addition of 390,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The stronger than expected job growth reflected notable job gains in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and healthcare.

Meanwhile, the report showed the unemployment remained at 3.6 percent for the fourth month in a row, matching economist estimates.

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