US Jobless Claims Inch Up but Still Near Record Lows

Applications for US unemployment benefits increased last week, and the overall number on jobless support reached its highest level since February, but both remained at record lows, suggesting that the US job market is still tight, even as the Federal Reserve seeks to cool labor demand in order to lower inflation.

The Labor Department reported on Thursday that initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 225,000 for the week ended Dec. 24, matching the consensus expectation of economists polled by Reuters.

Continuing claims, or the number of persons who have previously made an initial application and are presently claiming unemployment benefits, increased to 1.7 million in the week ending December 17, the highest level since early February.