Businesses have cut back on hiring in response to a slowing U.S. economy, but they still aren’t cutting many jobs.
The numbers: The number of unemployed workers who applied for jobless benefits in the second week of October rose slightly, but layoffs nationwide remained near a 50-year low and showed no sign of rising despite a slowdown in the U.S. economy.
Initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, increased by 4,000 to 214,000 in the week of Oct. 6 to Oct. 12, the government said Thursday.
Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 215,000 reading.
What happened: Most of the increase in new jobless claims last week was concentrated in California. No other state reported significant changes.
Claims were somewhat elevated in Ohio and Michigan, two states with large concentrations of General Motors GM, +1.08% workers who had been on strike, but the impasse had little effect overall on the U.S. labor market.
The more stable monthly average of new claims rose by 1,000 to 214,750. The four-week average gives a more accurate read into labor-market conditions than the more volatile weekly number.
The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, declined by 10,000 to 1.68 million. These claims have been below 2 million since early 2017.
Big picture: Businesses have cut back on hiring in response to a slowing U.S. economy, but they still aren’t cutting many jobs
An extremely low unemployment rate, ironically, might be part of the reason firms are reluctant to reduce payrolls. They worry they won’t be able to find skilled workers to fill open positions if the economy speeds up again. Instead they’ve resorted to cutting hours in industries such as retail and manufacturing.
The U.S. is unlikely to experience a sharp rebound in hiring until the ongoing trade tensions with China ease, executives and economists say. The spat has been widely blamed for causing growth in the U.S. and around the world to slow.
The 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.75% was little changed at 1.76%. The yield has fallen about 45% in the past year, tugging mortgage rates down at the same time. Many loans are tied to changes in the 10-year note.