New jobless claims climbed to 215,000 last week, in line with economist expectations and up slightly from the 212,000 for the week before.
Initial jobless claims are a proxy for layoffs and have been closely watched as the trade war with China heated up for signs that tariffs would weigh on workers. Contrary to the predictions of tariff critics, the labor market has strengthened as the U.S. and China raised import levies.
Jobless claims can be volatile week-to-week. Economists regard the four-week moving average as a more stable measure of the labor market. This fell by 3,750 to 216,750.