Unemployment insurance claims jumped to 211,000, the highest since Christmas. Blame it on New York.

Number: The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits in early March jumped to a 10-week high of 211,000, but much of the increase was related to New York school-related filings.

New applications for benefits in the US increased by 21,000 from 190,000 the week before. the government said on Thursday. Figures are seasonally adjusted.

It was the first time in eight weeks that the number of claims exceeded 200,000.

The biggest increase was in New York, where contracts allow school workers to apply for benefits during winter and spring breaks. Raw or actual unemployment claims in New York surged to 30,241 from 16,363 the week before.

California also recorded a sizeable increase. This could indicate that the recent spate of major corporate layoffs is starting to cool the US labor market. Since last fall, many big tech companies have announced layoffs.

The number of people filing for unemployment benefits is one of the best barometers of whether the economy is getting better or worse. However, new unemployment claims remain at historically low levels.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expected a total of 195,000 new claims in the seven days ending March 3.

Key details: Last week, 37 of the 53 US states and territories reporting unemployment claims saw an increase. Seventeen posted a decline.

Most states, with the exception of New York and California, have reported little change.

Meanwhile, the number of people receiving unemployment benefits nationwide increased by 69,000 in the week ending February 25 to a two-month high of 1.72 million. This number is reported one week behind.

These ongoing claims are still low, but their gradual increase since last spring suggests that those who have lost their jobs are taking longer to find new ones.

Big picture: Unemployment claims are one of the first red flags when the US is heading into recession.

So far, unemployment claims have been very low and the economy is still creating a lot of jobs. Economists estimate that the US added 225,000 new jobs in February.

But economists expect hiring to slow and layoffs to rise later in the year as higher interest rates constrain the economy and reduce demand for workers. Many large companies, especially in technology, media and finance, have already announced job cuts.

Future plans: “absence [New York]The number would probably have fallen below 200,000 again, said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Santander Capital Markets.

“Overall, initial unemployment claims remain remarkably low, underscoring that the labor market remains reasonably strong, despite a spate of layoff announcements in recent months.”

Market reaction: Dow Jones Industrial Average

and S&P 500

It rose in Thursday trading.

Wall Street is hoping for signs of a cooling labor market, which would discourage the Fed from aggressively raising interest rates. The Federal Reserve (Fed) is raising interest rates to tame inflation and ease upward pressure on wages.

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