U.S. jobless claims rise, though still show solid labor market

UNITED STATES jobless claims climbed to 214,000 last week. / BLOOMBERG NEWS FILE PHOTO/JEFF KOWALSKY
UNITED STATES jobless claims climbed to 214,000 last week. / BLOOMBERG NEWS FILE PHOTO/JEFF KOWALSKY

NEW YORK – Filings for United States unemployment benefits rose for the first time in three weeks while remaining near levels showing a tight labor market.

Jobless claims climbed to 214,000 in the week ended Dec. 15, slightly below the median estimate in Bloomberg’s survey of economists, Labor Department figures showed Thursday. The four- week average, a less-volatile measure, fell to 222,000.

Key insights

The report underscores the tight jobs situation in the U.S. as companies push to hire and retain employees, lowering the number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits. The data are consistent with robust demand for workers, despite recent indications of moderating economic growth, such as lower consumer and business optimism. Analysts caution that it’s difficult to gauge the underlying trend of claims around the holidays as seasonal factors may prove to be short-term, such as a boost in Christmas hiring.

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Continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week lag, rose by 27,000 to 1.688 million in the week ended Dec. 8. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.2 percent. The prior week’s readings for initial and continuing claims were unrevised.

Katia Dmitrieva is a reporter for Bloomberg News.