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Jobless Claims Decrease Far Below Expectations

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The number of Americans who filed new unemployment claims totaled 184,000 in the week ending on Dec. 4 as employers fight to retain workers during the busy holiday season, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The Labor Department figure shows a 43,000 claim decrease compared to the week ending Nov 27, when jobless claims increased to 220,000. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal projected claims to decrease to 211,000 for the week ending Dec. 4.

Employers have been desperately trying to retain employees as job openings soared to a near-record high of 11.03 million in November, the WSJ reported. In November, the quits rate declined by 4.7%, dropping to 4.16 million from 4.63 million in October, CNBC reported.

“The overriding dynamic in the job market of late has been this shortage of workers,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate, told the WSJ. “The issue of fresh job loss has not been key for many months now.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy added only 210,000 jobs in October, a figure well below economists’ estimate of 573,000. Unemployment also fell in November to 4.2% from October’s 4.6% figure.

While the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns have grown over the Omicron coronavirus variant and surging inflation persist.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), a key inflation indicator, soared to its highest level in 30 years in October, and experts surveyed by the WSJ expect inflation to continue climbing. November’s CPI data is scheduled for release by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Dec. 10.

“We know that the job market is not going to look like it did exactly before the pandemic,” Hamrick said. “But I think it’s important to note that there’s been substantial healing.”

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