The improvement in the U.S. labor market stalled again last week, as the number of people filing initial claims for jobless benefits edged up from a week earlier.
Labor Department data showed that initial jobless claims rose to 373,000, disappointing hopes for a new post-pandemic low of 350,000. Last week’s total was also revised up by 7,000 to 371,000.
Continuing claims, which are collated with a one-week lag to initial ones, continued to fall as more states phased out the enhanced benefits that were offered during the most acute phase of the pandemic. At 3.339 million, they were effectively in line with consensus forecasts.
The numbers come at a time of growing concern that the U.S. economy’s rebound may be topping out, as favorable base effects fade and the spread of new variants of Covid-19 threatens to cause fresh havoc in parts of the country where vaccination rates have lagged.