The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly jumped last week but remained at levels linked with tightening labor market conditions.
- Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 23,000 to hit a seasonally adjusted 248,000 for the week ended February 12. Economists surveyed by Reuters had projected 219,000 applications for the latest week.
- Claims had been falling since rising to hit a three-month high in mid-January as Covid-19 cases, driven by the Omicron variant, struck the country.
- There is a massive shortage of workers, with close to a record of 10.9 million job vacancies at the close of December. This situation has left firms holding onto their workers, driving claims below their pre-pandemic levels.
Meanwhile, the report indicated that the less volatile four-week moving average dropped to 243,250, a decrease of 10,500 from the prior week’s revised average of 253,750.
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Source: US Department of Labor