US jobless claims nudge higher in mid-June but remain low

New claims for US jobless benefits fell in mid-November, confirming the strength of American labor markets and continuing a record streak of low levels, official data showed (AFP Photo/Justin SULLIVAN) (Getty/AFP/File)

Washington (AFP) - New claims for US jobless benefits edged slightly higher in mid-June, but the record streak of low levels continued, indicating the labor market remains tight, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The results suggested the overall jobless rate may remain near its current 16-year low of 4.3 percent because Thursday's figures were collected the same week as the survey to determine June's unemployment numbers.

For the week ending June 17, new claims for unemployment benefits were 241,000, up 3,000 from the prior week's revised level and in line with analyst expectations.

Weekly claims have been below 300,000 for 120 weeks, the longest such stretch recorded since 1970. Claims have been below 250,000 for eight of the last 10 weeks.

The less volatile four-week moving average stood at 244,750, up 1,500 claims from the week before, its fourth consecutive increase.

Though the level of jobless claims can see big swings from week to week, it can be used to gauge the prevalence of layoffs and the strength of jobs markets.

Uninterrupted job creation in recent years has reduced the supply of available workers, making employers reluctant to let their employees go for fear they will be hard to replace.

Anecdotal reports across the country say companies are finding it difficult to fill open positions, even for low-skill jobs, which has helped persuade the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates twice this year despite the absence of rising inflation.