Unemployment claims highest since August

Unemployment claims last week rose to their highest level since August but still remained relatively low as economists worry a recession could be on the horizon in the near future. 

The Labor Department reported on Wednesday that 240,000 people applied for unemployment benefits last week, an increase of 17,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average also jumped up by 5,500 to 226,750, but the unemployment rate stands at 3.7 percent, just above a half-century low. 

Despite inflation hitting its highest rates in four decades in recent months, the unemployment rate has consistently remained low as the country resumes normal activities coming out of the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But some experts have expressed concerns that the country could be heading for a recession, which is officially defined as two consecutive quarters of decreasing gross domestic product but does not have a universally agreed definition. 

The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates by 0.75 points four times this year to try to get inflation under control, and inflation went down faster than expected last month. But economists have warned that raising rates too quickly could cause an economic downturn and lead to a recession. 

Employers added 261,000 jobs last month and have added an average of almost 407,000 jobs per month this year. 

New weekly unemployment benefit applications stayed under 200,000 for much of February, March and April before it increased in late spring. The number reached 261,000 in July but has been lower since then. 

The Labor Department said 1.55 million people received benefits during the week that ended on Nov. 12, an increase of 48,000 from the previous week. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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