Stateside Jobless Claims Balloon Last Week

The number of those Americans filing for first-time jobless benefits increased more than expected last week, as a sign that maybe the economic recovery from the COVID pandemic is running as smoothly as hoped.

Figures released Thusrday by the U.S. Labor Department show initial jobless claims rose to 362,000 as hiring appeared to remain sluggish while the U.S. continues to fight against the Delta variant.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting 335,000 new filings, the same number as the upwardly revised total from the previous week.

The total was the highest since the 377,000 for the week ended Aug. 7 and indicates that hiring may be slowing at a time when concerns are growing about the pace of the economic recovery and the impact the pandemic may have heading into autumn.

The four-week moving average for weekly claims, which smooths volatility in the numbers, edged lower to 335,750.

With enhanced unemployment benefits coming to a close, the total of those enrolled under all programs fell to 11.25 million, a drop of 856,440. A year ago, 26.6 million were receiving benefits under programs the government had developed to combat massive pandemic-related layoffs.