U.S. applications for jobless benefits rise but remain historically low despite recent layoffs

More Americans applied for jobless benefits last week, but layoffs remain historically low even as more high-profile companies have announced job cuts this year.

Applications for unemployment benefits rose by 13,000 to 215,000 for the week ending Feb. 24, the Labor Department reported today. Last week’s number was revised up by 1,000 to 202,000.

In total, 1.9 million Americans were collecting jobless benefits during the week that ended Feb. 17, up 45,000 from the previous week and the most since November.

Weekly unemployment claims are broadly viewed as representative of the number of U.S. layoffs in a given week. They have remained at historically low levels since the pandemic purge of millions of jobs in the spring of 2020.

The four-week average of claims, a less volatile measure, fell by 3,000 to 212,500 from the previous week.