WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week following three straight weeks of declines.
Jobless claims rose by 23,000 to 248,000 for the week ending Feb. 12, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Claims were revised up to 225,000 the previous week.
The four-week average for claims, which compensates for weekly volatility, fell by 10,500 to 243,250. It was the second straight week of declines after rising for five straight weeks as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spread, disrupting business in many parts of the U.S.
In total, fewer than 1.6 million Americans were collecting jobless aid the week that ended Feb. 5, a decrease of about 26,000 from the previous week.
Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported a surprising burst of hiring in January, with employers adding 467,000 jobs. The unemployment rate edged up to a still-low 4% from 3.9%, as more people began looking for work, but not all of them securing jobs right away.
Massive government spending and the vaccine rollout jumpstarted the economy as employers added a record 6.4 million jobs last year. The U.S. economy expanded 5.7% in 2021, growing last year at the fastest annual pace since a 7.2% surge in 1984, also coming after a recession.
An overheated U.S. economy has spawned inflation not seen in four decades, leading the Federal Reserve to ease its support for the economy.