The number of new jobless claims inched up again for the third week in a row, hitting 362,000 for the week ending Sept. 25, up 11,000 over the previous week’s unrevised 351,000, according to the Thursday (Sept. 30) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
This week’s report is the first that fully accounts for the Sept. 6 national expiration of federal enhanced unemployment benefits. Some experts had said the end of extra benefits might prompt more people to return to the workforce.
The unemployment rate was 2% for the week ending Sept. 18, a decline of 0.1% from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment was 2.8 million, down 18,000 from the previous week’s level, which was revised down 25,000.
The four-week moving average was 2,797,250, down 750 from the previous week’s revised average and the lowest level since March 21, 2020, when it was 2,071,750. The previous week’s average was revised down by 6,000.
Continued weeks claimed for the week ending Sept. 11 stood at 5,027,581, a decrease of 6,222,725 from the previous week. The same week in 2020 had 27,205,974 weekly claims.
The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending Sept. 11 were in Puerto Rico, California, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey, the Virgin Islands, Hawaii and Illinois.
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Sept. 18 were in California, Virginia, Ohio, Oregon and Maryland. The biggest declines were in Louisiana, New York, Missouri, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
Economists had forecast that initial unemployment claims for the week ended Sept.25 would be 330,000, with continued claims coming in at 2.8 million, according to Yahoo Finance.
“Demand for labor is very strong, and job gains averaged 750,000 per month over the past three months. In August, however, gains slowed markedly, with the slowdown concentrated in sectors most sensitive to the pandemic,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said during testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday.
“Factors related to the pandemic, such as caregiving needs and ongoing fears of the virus, appear to be weighing on employment growth. These factors should diminish with progress on containing the virus.”