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Labor Department Reports Year’s Biggest Increase in Initial Jobless Claims

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance leapt by 22,000 during the week ended Saturday (May 4).

The total of 231,000 initial claims filed during the week was up from the previous week’s revised figure of 209,000, the Department of Labor (DOL) said in a Thursday (May 9) press release. The previous week’s figure was revised up by 1,000.

The four-week moving average of 215,000 was 4,750 higher than the previous week’s revised average of 210,250, which was revised up by 250, according to the release.

The week’s total number of initial jobless claims was the highest since August 2023, signaling a change in a labor market that is otherwise robust, CNBC reported Thursday.

It was also higher than the number Dow Jones had forecast for the week — 214,000 — according to the report.

Reuters reported that the week’s increase in jobless claims was the biggest in four months and that the total number of claims topped the range of 194,000 to 225,000 that had been seen so far in 2024.

The total also exceeded the expectations of economists polled by Reuters, who had forecast a total of 215,000.

On May 1, ADP reported that nine of the 10 industry sectors it monitors posted job gains in April. Only the information sector lost jobs, shedding 4,000 during the month.

In comments supplied to the DOL, the state with the greatest increase in the number of initial claims filed during the week ended April 27, Iowa, attributed the change to layoffs in the manufacturing industry, according to the press release.

The state with the second highest number of initial claims, Illinois, pointed to layoffs in construction, manufacturing, administrative and support, and waste management and remediation services industries.

The states with the greatest decreases in initial claims during that week — California and Massachusetts — did not submit comments to the DOL.

The DOL also reported Thursday that the insured unemployment rate was 1.2% for the week ended April 27, unchanged from the previous week’s rate, which was unrevised.

The insured unemployment number for that week was 1,785,000, which was 17,000 higher than the previous week’s revised figure, per the release. The figure for the previous week was revised down by 6,000 to 1,768,000.