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WASHINGTON: The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose for a second straight week last week, suggesting some cooling in the labor market amid tighter monetary policy and financial conditions.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits jumped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 244,000 for the week ended July 9, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 235,000 applications for the latest week. Claims had been hovering around 230,000 since June.

There have been reports of layoffs in the interest rate-sensitive housing and manufacturing industries. Despite some loss of momentum, demand for labor remains fairly strong.

US producer prices accelerate in June, but underlying inflation slowing

There were 11.3 million job openings at the end of May, with nearly 2 job openings for every unemployed person.

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise its policy rate by another 75 basis points at the end of this month, a call that was bolstered by annual consumer prices surging 9.1% in June, the largest increase since November 1981.

The US central bank has hiked its overnight interest rate by 150 basis points since March.

The Fed’s Beige Book report of anecdotal information on business activity collected from contacts nationwide showed on Wednesday that “most districts continued to report that employment rose at a modest to moderate pace and conditions remained tight overall” in early July. But it noted “weaker demand for workers, particularly among manufacturing and construction contacts.”

The government reported last Friday that the economy created 372,000 jobs last month, with a broader measure of unemployment falling to a record low.

Gasoline, food drive US consumer prices higher in June

Economists say weekly jobless claims need to increase above 250,000 on a sustained basis to raise concerns about the labor market’s health.

The number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 41,000 to 1.331 million during the week ending July 2, the claims report showed. The level of so-called continuing claims remains very low.

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