U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Rebound From Nine-Month Low

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A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rebounded by slightly more than expected in the week ended February 4th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims rose to 196,000, an increase of 13,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 183,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 190,000.

The uptick came after jobless claims decreased in four out of the five previous weeks, falling to their lowest level since hitting 181,000 in the week ended April 23, 2022.

"Though the latest data shows a modest pick-up in the level of jobless claims, the increase is from a subdued level and claims continue to signal a tight labor market despite any headline grabbing layoffs of recent weeks," said Matthew Martin, US Economist at Oxford Economics.

He added, "Recent indicators, including claims, show there is plenty of momentum left in the labor market, leaving the Fed on track to raise rates again in March."

Meanwhile, the report said the less volatile four-week moving average edged down to 189,250, a decrease of 2,500 from the previous week's unrevised average of 191,750.

The Labor Department also said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, increased by 38,000 to 1.688 million in the week ended January 27th.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims also rose to 1,664,750, an increase of 14,500 from the previous week's revised average of 1,650,250.

Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report unexpectedly showing a substantial acceleration in U.S. job growth in the month of January.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment soared by 517,000 jobs in January after surging by an upwardly revised 260,000 jobs in December.

Economists had expected employment to increase by 185,000 jobs compared to the addition of 223,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The report also said the unemployment rate edged down to 3.4 percent in January from 3.5 percent in December. The dip surprised economists, who had expected the unemployment rate to inch up to 3.6 percent.

With the unexpected decrease, the unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level since hitting a matching rate in May 1969.

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