US weekly jobless claims rise modestly; labour market tight

WASHINGTON: The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased less than expected last week, suggesting the labour market continues to tighten even as job growth is slowing.
Labour market strength is underpinning consumer spending, helping to keep the longest economic expansion on record, now in its 11th year, on track, despite a downturn in manufacturing.
“Employers are not cutting positions outside of the normal churn of the labour market and workers are incredibly confident in their job prospects, and not taking the time to file a claim if they are laid off,” said Maria Cosma, an economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 211,000 for the week ended January 18, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims had declined for five straight weeks, resulting in the unwinding of the surge seen in early December, which was blamed on a later-than-normal Thanksgiving Day.
Claims data for the prior week was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims increasing to 215,000 in the latest week.
The Labor Department said claims for Alabama, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Puerto Rico and Virginia were estimated because of Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr Day holiday, which left authorities with less time to compile the data.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 3,250 to 213,250 last week, the lowest level since September.
The four-week moving average of claims dropped 12,500 between the December and January survey periods, suggesting some pickup in job growth this month. — Reuters