Jobless claims remain near 50-year lows despite an uptick in claims last week.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 6,000 to 211,000 in the week ended January 18, the Department of Labor said Thursday.
Economists had predicted claims to rise to 213,000. The prior week was revised up by 1,000 to 205,000.
Jobless claims can be volatile week to week, especially around holidays. The four-week moving average, which smooths out that volatility, fell 3,250 to 213,250.
New unemployment claims are watched closely as a proxy for layoffs. Last year, these fell to a 50-year low and have remained near that level ever since. This resilience has been surprising in light of the long-lasting strike by General Motors workers, the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max planes, and a broader slump in manufacturing as the growth of global demand has slowed.
Consumer spending in the U.S. remains high, providing employers with sales growth and supporting the labor market. The resulting low-levels of unemployment, in turn, boost consumer confidence, create a virtuous economic circle.