Claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week, marking the first increase in initial claims since late April.
Another 412,000 workers filed for first-time benefits in the week ended June 12, adjusted for seasonal swings, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Since the start of May, weekly claims had set new pandemic-era lows every week — and economists polled by Refinitiv expected another low for Thursday’s report.
The number of claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which isn’t adjusted for seasonality, also climbed at 118,025 claims. Congress set up the program to provide aid for those not eligible for regular state benefits, such as the self-employed, during the pandemic.
It’s disappointing, but the uptick might not yet be a cause for concern.
After all, the labor market has improved over the past months and weekly filings for regular and pandemic benefits have finally fallen below a million.
And the increase comes at a peculiar time with various states ending pandemic benefit programs early, before they officially expire in September.
“It is difficult to control for the effect of federal programs termination on claimant behavior,” said Indeed Hiring Lab economist AnnElizabeth Konkel in emailed comments.
“What we do know is that in states where federal benefits are ending imminently, job search activity on Indeed has not spiked relative to the national trend,” she said.
Continued claims, which count those who have filed for benefits for at least two weeks in a row, rose slightly to 3.5 million in the week ended June 5, adjusted for seasonal swings.