U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Rise To 230,000
The rise in claims is likely due to layoffs resulting from a surge in COVID cases, according to economists.
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level since mid-November, but is still low by historical standards.
U.S. jobless claims climbed by 23,000 last week to 230,000, the Department of Labor said Thursday. The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week blips, rose nearly 6,300 to almost 211,000.
The weekly applications, a proxy for layoffs, have risen in four of the last five weeks, a period that runs in tandem with the spread of the Omicron variant. Yet the jobs market has bounced back strongly from last year's coronavirus recession. Jobless claims had fallen mostly steadily for about a year and they dipped below the pre-pandemic average of around 220,000 a week.
"The rise in claims likely reflects an increase in layoffs due to the surge in COVID cases," said economists Nancy Vanden Houten and Kathy Bostjancic of Oxford Economics. "Claims may remain elevated in the near term, but we expect initial claims will gravitate back to the 200K level once the Omicron wave passes. Encouragingly, there are indications that cases from the Omicron variant are peaking."
Altogether, 1.6 million people were collecting jobless aid the week that ended Jan. 1.
Companies are holding on to workers at a time when it's difficult to find replacements. Employers posted 10.6 million job openings in November, the fifth-highest monthly total in records going back to 2000. A record 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November — a sign that they are confident enough to look something better.
The job market has bounced back from last year's brief but intense coronavirus recession. When COVID-19 hit, governments ordered lockdowns, consumers hunkered down at home and many businesses closed or cut back hours. Employers slashed millions of jobs in March and April 2020, and the unemployment rate rocketed to 14.7%.
But massive government spending — and eventually the rollout of vaccines — brought the economy back. Last year, employers added a record 6.4 million jobs — but that still was not enough to make up for the unprecedented 9.4 million jobs lost in 2020. And hiring slowed in November and December last year as employers struggled to fill job openings.
Still, the unemployment rate fell last month to a pandemic low 3.9%.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.
Animal rescues see fewer adoptions, more surrenders due to inflation
Rising economic costs have made it difficult for pet owners to keep animals they adopted during the pandemic, and for rescues to pay for their care.By Scripps News
Record job switching has contributed to higher inflation
A paper by the Chicago Federal Reserve shows that job switching boosted inflation an extra percentage point as people were able to garner higher pay.By Storyblocks
US inflation and consumer spending cooled in December
The overall spending figures for the final two months of 2022 were the weakest in two years.By Gene J. Puskar / AP
Online system to seek asylum in US is quickly overwhelmed
The daily ritual resembles a race for concert tickets when online sales begin for a major act.By Elliot Spagat / AP
Tyre Nichols video: Here are some of the key takeaways
A fatal beating. Cries for his mom. Officers cheering each other on. Here are some of the key takeaways from the Tyre Nichols police bodycam footage.By City of Memphis via AP
Memphis disbands SCORPION Unit after Tyre Nichols' video release
The unit's disbandment comes as protests have spread throughout the city in recent days.By Gerald Herbert / AP