The Labor Department reported Thursday that weekly jobless claims rose to 360k, up from 344k claims the week before. Economists had been expecting this week’s number to dip to around 330k. The 4-week moving average, a less volatile measure also increased to 351k from the previous 345k. The report is another sign that the job market remains weak.
The claims number represents the number of people making their first filing for unemployment benefits. In total, over 4.5 million Americans are collecting unemployment benefits. That number is down from last year, due primarily to benefits expiring.
The claims number has been stuck in a tight band of 330-375k for several months. With only weak economic growth, there is little appetite among employers to step-up hiring. Without sustained growth in jobs, however, the economy isn’t able to grow much faster.
Stagnant is the new normal.