WASHINGTON, May 5 (Xinhua) -- Initial jobless claims in the United States last week ticked up to 200,000 amid continued labor market tightness, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday.
In the week ending April 30, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased by 19,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised level of 181,000, according to a report released by the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The report also showed that the number of people continuing to collect regular state unemployment benefits decreased by 19,000 to 1.384 million during the week ending April 23. That number peaked in April and May in 2020, when it was over 20 million.
The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs -- state and federal combined -- for the week ending April 16 decreased by 35,165 to 1.478 million.
"The labor market is extremely tight, and inflation is much too high," Fed Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday afternoon at a press conference, noting that the central bank is moving "expeditiously" to bring inflation back down.
Noting that there is imbalance between supply and demand in the labor market, Powell said the Fed's policies would moderate demand, which would help lower job vacancies. With more people coming back to the labor market, supply and demand will come back into balance, he said.
Diane Swonk, chief economist at major accounting firm Grant Thornton, noted that the Fed is "much more focused on inflation than unemployment," and willing to accept a rise in unemployment.
Data showed that companies were struggling to hire as labor market supply could not meet demand. The number of job openings was little changed at 11.5 million by end of March, the highest level in the history of the series which began in December 2000, the BLS reported Tuesday.
The number of unemployed persons, however, decreased by 318,000 to a level of 6 million, according to the March unemployment report.
Payroll data company Automatic Data Processing (ADP) reported Wednesday that private companies in the United States added 247,000 jobs in April, with small companies cutting 120,000 employees.
As the labor market tightens, small companies, with fewer than 50 employees, "struggle with competition for wages amid increased costs," said Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP.
The April unemployment report, which will include employment data from both the private sector and the government, is set to be released Friday.
Jay Bryson, chief economist at the Wells Fargo Securities, forecasted April job growth to reach 400,000, and unemployment rate to hit 3.5 percent, the pre-pandemic level. ■