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The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week from the lowest point of the pandemic, even as the job market appears to be rebounding on the strength of a reopened economy.
The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday jobless claims increased last week to 419,000, the most in two months, from 368,000 the previous week.
The number of first-time applications, which generally tracks layoffs, has fallen steadily since topping 900,000 in early January.
Economists characterized last week's increase as most likely a blip caused by some one-time factors and partly a result of the inevitable bumpiness in the week-to-week data.
Applications for jobless aid jumped last week, for example, in Michigan, where General Motors has announced it will shut down truck production because of supply shortages.
Iowa’s continuing claims
In Iowa, while new unemployment claims decreased for the first time in five weeks — from 2,042 to 1,767 — continuing claims increased, from 18,621 to 19,141.
Self-employed and independent contractors were the largest source of new claims in the state, with 382, followed by manufacturing with 303, construction with 181 and retail trade with 101.
Linn and Johnson counties both saw drops in new claims.
The 136 new claims in Linn County and 71 new claims in Johnson County were the fewest since the beginning of the pandemic.
Complaints by companies nationwide that they can't find enough workers have led 22 states to prematurely end a $300-a-week federal unemployment benefit, which comes on top of state jobless aid.
The early cutoffs of expanded aid have contributed to a steady decline in the number of people receiving jobless benefits.
That number fell to 12.6 million in the week ending July 3, the latest period for which data is available, down from 13.8 million the previous week.
In June, employers added 850,000 jobs, further evidence that the reopening of the economy was driving a robust recovery from the pandemic recession.
The June jobs data also suggested that workers were enjoying an advantage as companies, desperate to fill positions, offered higher wages.
Average hourly pay rose a solid 3.6 percent compared with a year earlier. That said, the economy still has 6.8 million fewer jobs than it did before the virus erupted in March of last year.