The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose for a third straight week last week, but that likely does not suggest a material shift in labor market
On Thursday, initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 250,000 for the week ending Dec. 30. The Labor Department stated that claims tend to be unstable around the holiday season. Data for the states of California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming were all estimated.
Furthermore, the Labor Department added that the claim-taking procedures in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico continued to be disrupted in the months following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Last week was the the 148th straight week in which claims stayed under the 300,000 thresholds, which is related to a strong labor market. This is the longest stretch seen since 1970. The labor market is approaching full employment, with the jobless rate sustaining a 17-year low of 4.1 percent.
The minutes from the Federal Reserve’s December policy meeting was published on Wednesday, and showed the optimism of officials at the U.S. central bank regarding the economy and labor market forecasts. Fed officials consider that economic activity is “rising at a solid rate,” and the labor market is progressively strengthening.
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The central bank raised interest rates three times last year and has forecast three rate hikes in 2018. However, economists are predicting the Federal bank to increase borrowing costs four times during 2018, mainly due to President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut package signed into law last month.
Last week, the four-week moving average of initial claims increased 3,500 to 241,750. The unemployment rate is unchanged at 4.1 percent. Thursday’s claims report showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 37,000 to 1.91 million in the week ending Dec. 23. The four-week moving average of the continuing claims rose 750 to 1.92 million.