Jobless Benefits Applications Hold Steady

(AP) -- The number of Americans filing for jobless benefits didn't change last week as the labor market continues to defy efforts by the Federal Reserve to cool hiring.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that unemployment claims for the week ending April 13 were unchanged from the previous week's 212,000.

The four-week average of claims, which softens some of the weekly volatility, was also unchanged at 214,500.

Weekly unemployment claims are considered a proxy for the number of U.S. layoffs in a given week and a sign of where the job market is headed. They have remained at historically low levels since the pandemic purge of millions of jobs in the spring of 2020.

The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark borrowing rate 11 times beginning in March of 2022 in a bid to stifle the four-decade high inflation that took hold after the economy rebounded from the COVID-19 recession of 2020. The Fed's intention was to loosen the labor market and cool wage growth, which it said contributed to persistently high inflation.

Many economists thought there was a chance the rapid rate hikes could cause a recession, but jobs have remained plentiful and the economy forged on thanks to strong consumer spending.

Last month, U.S. employers added a surprising 303,000 jobs, yet another example of the U.S. economy's resilience in the face of high interest rates. The unemployment rate dipped from 3.9% to 3.8% and has now remained below 4% for 26 straight months, the longest such streak since the 1960s.

Though layoffs remain at low levels, companies have been announcing more job cuts recently, mostly across technology and media. Google parent company Alphabet, Apple, eBay, TikTok, Snap, Amazon, Cisco Systems and the Los Angeles Times have all recently announced layoffs.

Outside of tech and media, UPS, Macy's, Tesla and Levi Strauss also have recently cut jobs.

In total, 1.81 million Americans were collecting jobless benefits during the week that ended April 6, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week.