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The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose the week ending June 12, for the first time since April, despite widespread evidence the economy and the job market are rebounding steadily from the pandemic recession.
The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday jobless claims rose 37,000 from the week before, to 412,000.
As the job market has strengthened, the number of weekly applications for unemployment aid has fallen for most of the year. The number of jobless claims generally reflects the pace of layoffs.
Weekly applications for unemployment aid had dropped for six straight weeks, and economists had expected another dip last week.
Still, the report showed the four-week average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week ups and downs, fell by 8,000 last week to 395,000 — the lowest four-week average since the pandemic slammed the economy in March 2020.
In Iowa, both new and continuing claims increased in the past week. New claims jumped from 2,364 to 2,975, and continuing claims rose from 24,464 to 24,962.
Self-employed and independent contractors were the largest source of new claims statewide with 496, followed by manufacturing with 323, health care and social assistance with 223, and education services with 203.
Linn and Johnson counties both saw increases in new claims but decreases in continuing claims.
For jobless claims to rise slightly nationwide "should not be cause for concern yet,'' said AnnElizabeth Konkel, economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab.
“The big picture is that while we are not back to a ‘normal’ level yet of initial claims, they are no longer astronomically high.''
A year ago, nearly 1.5 million people had applied for unemployment benefits in one week.
The speed of the economy’s rebound from the recession has caught many businesses off guard and touched off a scramble to hire.
In May, employers nationally added a less-than-expected 559,000 jobs — evidence that many companies are struggling to find enough workers as the economy recovers faster than expected.
But many economists expect hiring to catch up with demand in the coming months, especially as federal unemployment aid programs end and more people pursue jobs.
They note that the economy still has 7.6 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic struck.
And employers are posting job openings faster than applicants can fill them. In April, they advertised a record 9.3 million job openings, up a sharp 12 percent from the number in March.
Including the federal benefits, 14.8 million people were receiving some type of jobless aid during the week of May 29, down nearly 560,000 from the week before and from 30.2 million a year earlier.