The number of Americans who filed for new unemployment claims increased to 230,000 in the week ending Jan. 8 as rising COVID-19 cases continue to put pressure on employers.
The Labor Department figure shows a 23,000 claim increase compared to the week ending Jan. 1, when jobless claims increased to 207,000. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected claims would decrease to 200,000.
“We are talking about absenteeism to a level where some businesses might not be able to operate—if you want to call absenteeism the new lockdown,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, told the WSJ.
The U.S. economy added only 199,000 jobs in December, and unemployment dipped to 3.9% from November’s 4.2% figure. Roughly 6.5 million Americans remained out of work at the end of 2021, and the nation sat around 3.5 million jobs short of the pre-pandemic levels.
Meanwhile, inflation continues to plague the country, reaching 7% in December on a year-over-year basis, the highest rate since 1982.
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