Initial jobless claims ticked down last week, but were higher than forecast, as investors monitor the labor market for potential signs of a slowdown.
First-time filings for unemployment insurance in the U.S. totaled 229,000 for the week ended June 11, falling from the prior week's upwardly revised 232,000, the Department of Labor said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected the latest reading to come in at 217,000.
Last week's figure held near the highest level since mid-January when the Omicron-driven wave of COVID-19 sent droves of employees home from work.
Still, the number of claims reflects a labor market that remains hot, even as tighter monetary conditions and persistent inflation raise worries that unemployment may spike.
Thursday's data also follows projections from the Federal Reserve published Wednesday that indicate the unemployment rate is poised to rise a few tenths of a percentage point to 3.9% through the end of 2023. The May jobs report showed the unemployment rate at a historically low 3.6%.
The most recent data also brings the four-week moving average for new claims — which smooths out volatility in the weekly data — to 1,317,500, a decrease of 750 from the previous week's revised average. This marks the lowest level for this average since January 1970.
Claims have climbed steadily to the highest level in five months after notching a more than 50-year low in March. But even after increases in the number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance in recent weeks, claims are still only slightly above pre-pandemic levels. Claims averaged about 218,000 per week throughout 2019.
Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc