Initial filings for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose last week, a possible hint that the rapid job growth seen in the first half of 2021 could face hurdles in the months ahead, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
First-time jobless claims totaled 373,000 for the week ended July 3, compared with the 350,000 Dow Jones estimate. The previous week’s level was revised up by 7,000 from 364,000 to 371,000.
The level of continuing claims, the measure of ongoing benefits, decreased to 3.34 million, down 145,000 from the previous week’s revised level.
Despite the uptick in first-time applicants, the decreased number of continuing claims represented the lowest level for insured unemployment since March 2020. The four-week moving average for continuing claims, which smooths weekly volatility, fell by 44,500 to 3.44 million, also the lowest since March 2020.
“While the pace of firings is still above the 200k range we saw pre-Covid, it actually is only slightly above the average seen in the expansion in the mid [2000s] where from ’03-’08 it averaged 335k,” wrote Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group.