Fewer Americans are asking for unemployed help

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the US job market remains robust despite four decades of high inflation and a host of other economic pressures.

The number of jobless aid applications for the week ending June 18 fell to 229,000, down from 2,000 from the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday. First job applications generally reflect the number of layoffs.

The four-week average for claims, which is smoothing out some of the week-to-week volatility, rose 4,500 from the previous week to 223,500.

The total number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits for the week ending June 11 was 1,315,000, up 5,000 from the previous week. That figure has been hovering around the 50-year low for months.

Much of the recent job security and pay increases Americans have enjoyed recently have been offset by inflation levels not seen in four decades.

Earlier in June, the Labor Department reported that consumer prices rose 8.6% last month – even more than in April – from a year earlier. The Federal Reserve responded last week by raising its key lending rate — its main tool to fight rising prices — by three-quarters of a point. That increase comes on top of an increase of half a point in early May.

Three weeks ago, the government reported that US employers added 390,000 jobs in May, continuing a string of solid hires that have bolstered an economy under pressure. While job growth was healthy in May, it was the lowest monthly gain in a year and there are signs that more layoffs could be on the way, at least in some sectors.

Unemployment benefit claims, while still relatively low, are the highest since the first weeks of 2022 in recent weeks.

Online auto retailer Carvana said last month it was letting go about 2,500 employees, about 12% of its workforce. Online broker Redfin, which has been pressured by a housing market cooled by higher interest rates, said last week it would lay off 8% of its employees.

Those cuts have extended to businesses in the cryptocurrency sector, with prices for bitcoin and other digital assets falling in recent months.

Crypto trading platform Coinbase Global said last week it planned to cut about 1,100 jobs, or about 18% of its global workforce, as part of a restructuring to help control operating costs in response to current market conditions.

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