US weekly jobless claims rise to 412,000, snapping 6 straight weeks of declines

A line of people in Arkansas waiting to file for unemployment.
People waiting to file for unemployment at an Arkansas Workforce Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on April 6, 2020. REUTERS/Nick Oxford
  • Initial jobless claims rose to 412,000 last week, landing above the median economist estimate.
  • The sum ends a six-week streak of declines. The previous count was revised slightly lower.
  • Continuing claims gained to 3.52 million for the week that ended June 5, coming in above estimates.
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Filings for unemployment insurance increased last week, indicating new snags in the labor market’s recovery.

Weekly jobless claims came in at an unadjusted 412,000 last week, according to the Labor Department. The median estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for 370,000 claims. The reading ends six straight weeks of declines, which had pulled claims to several pandemic-era lows.

The prior week’s count was revised to 375,000 from 376,000.

Continuing claims, which count Americans receiving unemployment-insurance payments, rose to 3.52 million for the week that ended June 5. The median estimate was for 3.43 million claims. While initial claims counts have steadily declined in recent months, continuing claims have failed to stage a similarly encouraging downtrend.

Weekly claims counts are still nearly half of the levels seen as recently as March, signaling businesses are laying off fewer workers as the economy reopens and demand rebounds.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell laid out a rosy view of the labor market during a Wednesday press conference. The central banker said that while labor supply had unexpectedly curbed the recovery, it should bounce back as the economy reopened further. Skills mismatches, fears of COVID-19, childcare costs, and unemployment insurance are all most likely playing a role in keeping Americans from rejoining the workforce, Powell said.

As those factors fade and the country settles into a new normal, one can expect payroll growth to accelerate and for the labor market to stage a swift recovery, he added.

“I think it’s clear, and I am confident, that we are on a path to a very strong labor market,” Powell said. “I would expect that we would see strong job creation building up over the summer and going into the fall.”

The Federal Open Market Committee elected to hold rates near zero and maintain its asset-purchase strategy on Wednesday, noting it wouldn’t change its stance until it saw “substantial forward progress” toward its maximum-employment and inflation targets.