The Labor Department released a report on Thursday unexpectedly showing a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended August 19th.
The report said initial jobless claims slipped to 230,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 240,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 240,000 from the 239,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average crept up to 236,750, an increase of 2,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 234,500.
The report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, edged down by 9,000 to 1.702 million in the week ended August 12th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims still crept up to 1,697,250, an increase of 5,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,691,500.
“Initial jobless claims remain at levels consistent with relatively tight labor market conditions,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead US Economist at Oxford Economics. “While the risks are tilted toward additional rate hikes, if more signs of a cooling labor market don’t materialize, we think the Fed will be patient before pulling the trigger again.”
She added, “We expect the Fed to keep rates steady until it begins reducing rates at the end of Q1 2024 after the economy has entered a mild recession.”
Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched report on the employment situation in the month of August.
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