(Bloomberg) -- Applications for US unemployment insurance rose for a second week and held near the highest level since November, indicating continued moderation in the labor market.

Initial unemployment claims increased by 14,000 to 262,000 in the week ended Aug. 6, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 265,000 applications.

Continuing claims for state benefits ticked up to 1.43 million in the week ended July 30, the most since early April.

Jobless claims have been rising as more companies, particularly in the tech sector, announce layoffs and freeze hiring due to economic uncertainty. Demand for workers may drop as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, but so far, employers are largely trying to hold onto the ones they have amid widespread labor shortages.

That was reinforced by July’s jobs report, which showed US employers added more than double the number of jobs forecast and the unemployment rate dropped to match a 50-year low. And a below-forecast rise in consumer prices on Wednesday may take some of the pressure off the Fed to go as big with its next interest-rate hike.

What Bloomberg Economics Says...

“Initial jobless claims continue to signal conditions in the labor market are easing despite the red-hot July jobs report. Cooler conditions are more consistent with JOLTS data, which showed job openings dropping to 10.7 million in June from 11.3 million in May.”

--Eliza Winger, economist

To read the full note, click here

The jobless claims data can be choppy week to week, and some states in particular, like Massachusetts, have been volatile in recent readings. The prior week’s reading was also notably revised lower. 

The four-week moving average, which smooths out such swings, rose to 252,000. It’s climbed in all but one week since early April.

On an unadjusted basis, initial claims increased to 203,619 last week. Massachusetts posted the largest increase, followed by California.

A separate report Thursday showed a key measure of US producer prices unexpectedly fell in July for the first time in more than two years, largely reflecting a drop in energy costs.

(Adds Bloomberg Economics comment)

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