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Financial News: U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Edge Slightly Lowe

U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Edge Slightly Lower

03/14/2024 - 10:12:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - The Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits edged slightly lower in the week ended February 9th.

The report said initial jobless claims slipped to 209,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's revised level of 210,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 218,000 from the 217,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also dipped to 208,000, a decrease of 500 from the previous week's revised average of 208,500.

Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, rose by 17,000 to 1.811 million in the week ended March 2nd.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims also crept up to 1,799,250, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week's revised average of 1,797,250.

"This week's jobless claims report included annual revisions that had only a minor impact on previously reported data for initial claims over the past year," said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics. "The revisions to continued claims were more significant, with much of the previous volatility smoothed out, and the more recent level of claims revised lower by more than 100,000."

"The revised data for continued claims are consistent with a job market that is showing some signs of loosening but is still relatively strong," she added. "Our current forecast is for the Fed to begin lowering rates at its May meeting, but a healthy labor market and sticky inflation data have increased the risk the first cut comes later."

Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing employment in the U.S. increased by much more than expected in February, although the report also showed notable downward revisions to job growth in the two previous months.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment surged by 275,000 jobs in February, while economists had expected employment to jump by 200,000 jobs.

However, the report also said job growth in December and January was downwardly revised to 290,000 and 229,000 jobs, respectively, reflecting a net downward revision of 167,000 jobs.

The report also said the unemployment rate climbed to 3.9 percent in February from 3.7 percent in January. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to come in unchanged.

The Labor Department also said the annual rate of wage growth slowed to 4.3 percent in February from a downwardly revised 4.4 percent in January.

Economists had expected wage growth to slow to 4.4 percent from the 4.5 percent originally reported for the previous month.

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