Applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits rose last week, led by a jump in Louisiana, as Hurricane Ida continues to throw a wrench in the labor market’s broad recovery.
Initial unemployment claims in regular state programs increased to 332,000 in the week ended Sept. 11, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for an increase to 322,000 new applications.
Continuing claims for state benefits fell to 2.7 million in the week ended Sept. 4, a fresh pandemic low.
The uptick in claims likely reflects volatility in weekly data as the labor market broadly recovers, increasing demand for workers. Still, economic growth is expected to slow in the third quarter amid a pullback in stimulus spending.
The continued spread of the delta variant could also pose a threat, especially if it disrupts in-person schooling and parents’ work as a result.
Unadjusted initial claims in Louisiana rose by 4,058 last week, the most of all states, as petrochemical plants and refineries remained closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Arizona and Washington, D.C. also posted large increases, while claims in Illinois, Ohio and Texas were among the biggest drops.
Federal pandemic unemployment benefits ended by Sept. 6 in all states. The White House has said it will not extend jobless aid further, but states can use pandemic relief funds to provide additional assistance to unemployed workers.
— Bloomberg News