(NewsNation) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits decreased last week, with the total number of Americans collecting benefits remaining low.
The latest report released by the Labor Department Thursday showed jobless claims decrease by 8,000 to 218,000. The four-week average of claims, which levels out week-to-week volatility, increased by 7,250 to 206,750.
American workers are enjoying historically strong job security two years after the coronavirus pandemic plunged the economy into a brief but devastating recession. Weekly applications for unemployment aid have been consistently below the pre-pandemic level of 225,000 for most of 2022, even as the overall economy contracted in the first quarter.
Earlier this month, the government reported America’s employers added 428,000 jobs in April, leaving the unemployment rate at 3.6%, just above the lowest level in a half-century. Hiring gains have been strikingly consistent in the face of the worst inflation in four decades, with employers adding at least 400,000 jobs for 12 straight months.
Earlier in May, the Federal Reserve ratcheted up its fight against the worst inflation in 40 years by raising its benchmark short-term interest rate by a half-percentage point — its most aggressive move since 2000 — and signaling further large rate hikes to come. The increase in the Fed’s key rate raised it to a range of 0.75% to 1%, the highest point since the pandemic struck in March of 2020.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.