US Weekly Jobless Claims Reach Highest Since August 2023
US Weekly Jobless Claims Reach Highest Since August 2023

By Katabella Roberts

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits reached its highest level since August 2023 last week, according to data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on May 9.

First-time applications for unemployment benefits for the week ending May 4 soared by 22,000 to 231,000—up from 209,000 the week prior—according to the data, marking the highest level in eight months.

The last time the number of applications reached that figure was the week ending Aug. 26, 2023, when 234,000 Americans filed for unemployment.

The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out some of the weekly volatility, increased by 4,750 to 215,000, marking the highest level since February, according to the data.

Excluding adjustment for seasonal influences, claims totaled 209,324, up 10.4 percent from the previous week, according to the data.

The Labor Department said that was due to a rise in jobless claims in New York state, where more than 10,000 claims contributed to more than half of the latest total rise.

New York, California See Rise in Jobless Applications

Claims also rose in California, where around 4,200 new jobless applications were filed for the week ended May 4. That increase came after the state’s $20 minimum wage law for fast food workers went into effect last month.

Indiana and Illinois experienced gains of more than 2,000 claims, while Iowa and Texas saw a rise in new applications, the data showed.

In total, 1.79 million Americans were collecting unemployment benefits during the week that ended April 27. That marks an increase of 17,000 from the prior week, according to the Bureau of Labor.

The latest jobless claims data comes after April’s jobs report showed the U.S. economy added 175,000 new jobs in April, down from the upwardly revised 315,000 positions in March.

The report fell short of the 243,000 jobs expected by analysts, renewing hopes that the Federal Reserve might finally cut interest rates. Markets widely anticipate that the U.S. Federal Reserve will start lowering interest rates in September.

According to April’s report, the unemployment rate also ticked up to 3.9 percent last month, up from 3.8 percent and higher than the market forecast, although it still marked the 27th consecutive month that the jobless rate held under 4 percent. Before April, March saw an impressive gain of 315,000 jobs, while the February report was adjusted down by 34,000 to 236,000 jobs.

Tech, Media Layoffs Continue

While the May 9 Bureau of Labor Statistics data did not state which industries saw the most unemployment applications, multiple companies–predominantly those serving the technology and media industries–have announced job cuts to their global workforces in recent months.

The companies include Amazon, Apple, eBay Sony, and Snapchat.

Outside of the tech industry, fitness firm Peloton, automotive manufacturing company Stellantis, and footwear and apparel maker Nike have also unveiled cuts.

In April, Elon Musk’s Tesla revealed it was slashing more than 3,300 workers in California and more than 2,600 workers in Texas after reporting a 9 percent drop in revenue.

The latest data comes as Federal Reserve officials are closely monitoring the jobs numbers as they continue to work towards bringing inflation back down to 2 percent.

Earlier this month, Fed policymakers decided to hold interest rates at a 23-year high of 5.25-5.50 percent amid data suggesting inflation was easing at a slower pace than they had initially hoped.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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