Initial Unemployment Claims Up, First Time Since April

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The job market recovery hit a bump in the road last week, with the number of people initiating claims for unemployment benefits increasing for the first time since late April.

In the week ending June 12, there were 412,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance, 37,000 more than the previous week’s revised total, according to seasonally adjusted data released Thursday by the Department of Labor. It’s only the second time in the last 10 weeks that claims have increased, a jump that surprised economists, who had forecast a decrease to 369,411 claims, according to a median estimate cited by Moody’s Analytics.

“Don’t freak out yet,” Indeed economist AnnElizabeth Konkel wrote on Twitter. “It’s one week of data.”

The good news is that claims for unemployment insurance have fallen sharply in recent months, down 44.5% since the start of April, as employers hold on to their workers in a labor market where hiring hasn’t boomed as expected, despite a record number of job openings. An average of the last four weeks of initial claims—preferred by economists because it smooths out the twists and turns of week-to-week numbers—fell last week to 395,000, the first time it has fallen below 400,000 since the start of the pandemic last year.