The U.S. labor market may be finally cooling off with weekly claims for unemployment insurance increasing by 5,000 during the week ending April 15, data Thursday show.
New filings during the reporting week came in at 245,000, an increase of 5,000 from the week ending April 8. The less-volatile, four-week moving average barely moved, with a decrease of 500 from the previous week.
A steady string of data from the Labor Department showed previously that hiring was resilient, frustrating efforts at the U.S. Federal Reserve to slow consumer-level inflation with aggressive rate hikes. Too much hiring would incentivize demand and potentially drive prices higher, though the Fed is working to avoid the mass layoffs that would coincide with a recession.
With consumer inflation running at around 5%, the Fed may enact another rate hike next month in its pursuit of its 2% target rate for annual inflation.
On Wednesday, the Beige Book, a summary of economic conditions across the 12 Fed districts, found that job growth moderated, though the picture was somewhat mixed.
“A small number of firms reported mass layoffs, and those were centered at a subset of the largest companies,” the report read. “Some other firms opted to allow for natural attrition to occur, and to hire only for critically important roles.”
The New York Federal Reserve Bank reported that economic activity had changed very little and the labor market remained “solid.” For the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, employment was steady, though wage growth had moderated.
The Fed considers its next move on rate policies during May 2-3 meetings.
Markets were in the red during early Thursday trading. The Dow was down 0.57% and the S&P 500 was off 0.57% as of 10:00 a.m. EDT. The tech-heavy NASDAQ was down 0.52%.
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