The Labor Department released a report on Wednesday showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits increased by more than expected in the week ended November 19th.
The report said initial jobless claims rose to 240,000, an increase of 17,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 223,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 225,000 from the 222,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the bigger than expected increase, jobless claims reached their highest level since hitting 245,000 in the week ended August 13th.
“The Fed needs the labor market too cool to engineer a soft landing but the monetary policy implications of the recent rise in new filings isn’t significant,” said Ryan Sweet, Chief US Economist at Oxford Economics. “Overall, the labor market remains tight and labor demand, though moderating, remains strong.”
He added, “To engineer a soft landing and put downward pressure on inflation, the Fed needs to tighten monetary policy sufficiently to slow GDP growth to a below-potential pace to reduce labor demand.”
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also crept up to 226,750, an increase of 5,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 221,250.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also climbed by 48,000 to 1.551 million in the week ended November 12th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims also rose to 1,509,750, an increase of 28,250 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 1,481,500.
Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched monthly employment report for November.
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