Fewer Americans applied for unemployment insurance for the first time in four weeks, but the number is still the highest since November, suggesting that the economy may be slowing down.According to the US Department of Labor, applications (PDF) for unemployment benefits for the week ending July 23 declined by 5,000 to 256,000 from the previous week’s 261,000. The number of claims for the week of July 16 was revised upward by 10,000 from the previous estimate of 251,000.
The four-week average for claims, which smooths out some of the week-to-week volatility, rose by 6,250 from the previous week, to 249,500. That number is also at its highest level since November of last year.
For the week ending July 16, there were 1,359,000 Americans receiving unemployment benefits, a decrease of 25,000 from the previous week. For months, that number has been close to 50-year lows.
The Department of Labor earlier this month announced that companies added 372,000 jobs in June, a surprise increase and a rate comparable to the preceding two months. Given the more general indicators of economic deterioration, economists had anticipated that job growth would decline significantly last month.
For the fourth consecutive month, the unemployment rate stayed at 3.6 percent, matching a low that had not been seen in nearly 50 years.
However, total demand for labour remains high. The US government earlier this month announced that firms posted fewer positions …