WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits edge up last week and remain historically low.

The Labor Department reported Wednesday that jobless claims for the week ending June 29 rose by 4,000 to 238,000 from 234,000 the previous week. The data was issued one day earlier than its regular Thursday release due to the July Fourth holiday.

The total number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits rose for the ninth straight week, to 1.86 million, for the week of June 22. The most since November of 2021.

Economists say that while the number of new people applying for jobless aid each week remains relatively modest, some who are receiving benefits are finding it harder to land new jobs. That suggests that demand for workers is waning, even as the economy remains strong. 

While the labor market remains sturdy, recent government data suggest some softness taking hold.

The four-week average of claims, which evens out some of the week-to-week volatility, also continued to climb, rising by 2,250 to 238,500.

Applications for jobless benefits are trending higher in June after mostly staying below 220,000 this year. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4% in May, despite the fact that America’s employers added a strong 272,000 jobs last month.

The government issues its June jobs report on Friday. Analysts are forecasting that U.S. employers added 190,000 jobs last month, a healthy figure but down from May.

Weekly unemployment claims are widely considered as representative of layoffs.

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