Applications for state unemployment insurance in the United States increased slightly for the first time since late April, indicating a transitory hiccup in a job market that is generally strengthening as the economy reopens.
In the week ending June 12, initial claims in normal state programs climbed by 37,000 to 412,000, according to Labor Department statistics released Thursday. A Bloomberg survey of economists found that the median expectation was for 360,000 applications.
Despite an increase in claims, which have been unpredictable during the epidemic, layoffs have decreased considerably in recent months as health worries have subsided and employers have increased employment. Economists predict that the job market will continue to improve until the end of the year, with the unemployment rate expected to fall below 5% by the end of the fourth quarter.
Officials at the Federal Reserve are looking for indications that employment is “inclusive and broad-based.” Chair Jerome Powell stated at the end of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting on Wednesday that the rate of recovery in the job market has been uneven.
“Factors related to the pandemic, such as care-giving needs, ongoing fears of the virus, and unemployment insurance payments appear to be weighing on employment growth,” Powell said. “These factors should wane in coming months, against a backdrop of rising vaccinations, leading to more rapid gains in employment.”