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Weekly Unemployment Applications Rise Substantially Along with Inflation

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More Americans applied for jobless aid last week as the nation grappled with skyrocketing prices for gas and other necessities under President Joe Biden.

Applications for unemployment benefits rose by 21,000 to 218,000 for the week ending May 14, the Labor Department reported Thursday. First-time applications generally track the number of layoffs.

The four-week average for claims, which smooths out some of the weekly volatility, rose 8,250 from the previous week to 199,500.

The total number of Americans collecting jobless benefits for the week ending May 7 fell from the previous week to 1,317,000. That’s the fewest since December 27, 1969.

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 and concerns over inflation persist.

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Earlier this month, the government reported America’s employers added 428,000 jobs in April, leaving the unemployment rate at 3.6 percent, 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.

Inflation may be the only thing hotter than the U.S. job market.

Last week, the government reported that U.S. producer prices soared 11 percent in April from a year earlier, a hefty gain that indicates high inflation will remain a burden for consumers and businesses in the months ahead.

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Also last week, the government reported that inflation at the consumer level eased slightly in April after months of relentless increases but remained near a four-decade high.

Consumer prices jumped 8.3 percent last month from a year ago, just below the 8.5 percent year-over-year surge in March, which was the highest since 1981.

Meanwhile, the average price of a gallon of regular gas in the U.S. hit a record-high $4.589 on Thursday, according to AAA — and analysts warn that it could reach $6 this summer.

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Earlier this month, 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 percent to 1 percent, the highest point since the pandemic struck in March 2020.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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