US jobless claims hit eight-month high despite market remaining hot

    The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits jumped to its highest level in more than eight months last week, another indication that the red-hot U.S. labor market may be softening.

    Unemployment claims for the week ending May 4 rose to 231,000, up from 209,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Though last week’s claims were the most since the final week of August 2023, it’s still a relatively low number of layoffs.

    The four-week average of claims, which softens some of the weekly volatility, rose by 4,750 to 215,000.

    Weekly unemployment claims are considered a proxy for the number of U.S. layoffs in a given week and a sign of where the job market is headed. They have remained at historically low levels since the pandemic purge of millions of jobs in spring 2020.

    Last month, U.S. employers added just 175,000 jobs, the fewest in six months and another sign that the labor market may be loosening. The unemployment rate inched back up to 3.9% from 3.8% and has now remained below 4% for 27 straight months, the longest such streak since the 1960s.

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