Fewer Americans claiming unemployment benefits again last week

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell again last week to a four-month low even as the Federal Reserve continues its aggressive interest rate cuts to keep inflation under control.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell again last week to a four-month low even as the Federal Reserve continues its aggressive interest rate cuts to keep inflation under control.

Unemployment assistance claims for the week ending September 10 fell by 5,000 to 213,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. This is the least since the end of May.

The first requests generally reflect layoffs.

The four-week average of claims, which offsets some of the weekly volatility, fell from 8,000 to 224,000.

The number of Americans receiving traditional unemployment benefits rose by 2,000 for the week ending September 3, to 1.4 million.

Hiring in the United States in 2022 has been remarkably strong, even amid rising interest rates and weak economic growth. The Federal Reserve has been aggressively raising interest rates in an effort to lower inflation, which usually also slows job growth.

Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that employers added a still-strong 315,000 jobs in August, though less than the average of 487,000 per month over the past year. The jobless rate hit 3.7%, its highest level since February, but for a healthy reason: Hundreds of thousands of people have returned to the labor market, and some haven’t found work right away. , so the number of government unemployed increased. .

The US economy has been mixed this year. Economic growth declined in the first half of 2022, which by some informal definitions signals a recession.

But businesses remain desperate to find workers, posting more than 11 million job openings in July, meaning there are nearly two vacancies for every unemployed American.

Inflation continues to be the biggest obstacle to a healthy US economy. The rise in consumer prices has slowed slightly over the past two months, mainly due to falling gas prices. But overall, prices for food and other basic necessities remain high enough that the Federal Reserve has indicated it will continue to raise its benchmark interest rate until prices return to normal levels.

Most economists expect the Fed to raise its benchmark borrowing rate by three-quarters of a point when it meets next week.

The Fed has already raised its short-term interest rate four times this year and Chairman Jerome Powell has said the central bank will likely have to keep interest rates high enough to slow the economy “for a while” to rein in the worst inflation in 40 years. Powell acknowledged that the increases will hurt American households and businesses, but also said the pain would be worse if inflation stayed at current levels.

Some of this so-called pain has already begun, particularly in the housing and tech sectors. Online property companies RedFin and Compass recently announced job cuts as rising interest rates sent the housing market tumbling.

Other high-profile layoffs announced in recent months include Tesla, Netflix, Carvana and Coinbase.

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Matt Ott, The Associated Press

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