The U.S. labor market remains strong despite weaknesses in other areas of the economy, this week’s latest jobless claims report indicated. This comes after the national unemployment rate came in at 3.5%; marginally higher than January’s half-century low of 3.4%.
Data from the Department of Labor on Thursday showed that applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. fell by 16,000 to 230,000 for the week ending April 22. Over 1.86 million people were claiming unemployment benefits that week, down 3,000 from the previous week.
While jobless claims are higher than the 200,000 submitted at the start of the year, the U.S. labor market remains strong by historic standards. 236,000 jobs were added in March, lower than the 472,000 in January and the 326,000 in February but still historically strong.
Federal Reserve officials worry that the strong labor market could put pressure on wages and in turn prices, thereby undermining the fight to control inflation. While inflation was 5% year-over-year in March, it remains higher than the Fed’s 2% annual inflation target.