Money & The Economy

Jobless Claims Increase in a Tight Labor Market

The number of Americans who filed new unemployment claims totaled 220,000 in the week ending on Nov. 27 as employers fight to retain workers heading into the holiday season, the Department of Labor reported.

The Labor Department figure shows a 28,000 claim increase compared to the number from the week ending on Nov. 20, when jobless claims dropped to a 52 year low of 199,000.

Employers have been eager to hire and retain workers leaving their jobs at record rates, the WSJ reported. A record 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September, when job openings remained at historic levels.

“Employers don’t want to lay off somebody who might in some way be productive,” said Marianne Wanamaker, an economist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, said, according to the WSJ.

“As steady declines in new jobless claims have demonstrated, the risk of job loss is relatively low as many employers focus on retaining and adding workers,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com, told the WSJ.

Meanwhile, the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant poses risks to the recovering labor market along with supply chain bottlenecks and surging inflation, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Monday.

“The recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant pose downside risks to employment and economic activity and increased uncertainty for inflation,” Powell said. “Greater concerns about the virus could reduce people’s willingness to work in person, which would slow progress in the labor market and intensify supply-chain disruptions.”

The Labor Department is scheduled to release November’s jobs report on Dec.3. Economists surveyed by the WSJ projected that the U.S. economy added 573,000 jobs last month, compared to 500,000 in October.

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Harry Wilmerding

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Harry Wilmerding

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