Money & The Economy

Weekly Jobless Claims Increase To 248,000

The number of Americans who filed new unemployment claims increased to 248,000 in the week ending Feb. 12, the Labor Department announced Thursday.

The Labor Department’s figure showed an increase of 23,000 compared to the week ending on Feb. 5, when claims decreased to 225,000.

Millions of workers called in sick and businesses temporarily closed in January due to the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant, The Wall Street Journal reported. Economists expected that claims would decrease as employers hold tighter onto their workers.

“Despite the uptick, we expect initial claims to continue to grind back toward [200,000],” Mahir Rasheed, U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, said in a statement obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Layoffs are expected to be minimal in a tight labor market where employers continue to face difficulty hiring workers.”

Despite a slight dip in last week’s claims, the labor market has shown signs of strength amid the surging Omicron variant. The U.S. economy added 467,000 jobs in January while wages rose 5.7% on a year-over-year basis, well above the 3% pre-pandemic average, the Labor Department announced Feb. 4.

Meanwhile, retail sales surged 3.8% in January, far exceeding the 2.1% Dow Jones estimate, Commerce Department announced Wednesday. January’s figure marks the largest monthly increase in retail sales since March 2021 and a significant bounce back from December 2021, when sales decreased by 2.5%.

Consumer spending soared as shoppers faced the highest prices in almost 40 years, with the Consumer Price Index growing 0.6% in January, bringing the key inflation indicator’s year-over-year increase to 7.5%.

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