The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased in the first week of January as COVID-19 infections raged, but the numbers remain low by historical standards.
U.S. jobless claims, which represent layoffs, rose 23,000 to 230,000 in the week ended Jan. 8, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
The four-week moving average, which smoothed out weekly volatility, rose nearly 6,300 points to nearly 211,000.
The rise in claims was likely due to a wave of flight cancellations and workers calling in sick due to a surge in Omicron infections. But analysts say those headwinds should dissipate as the latest variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, takes its course.
Nancy Vanden Houten, chief economist at Oxford Economics, said: “With last week’s seasonally adjusted factor in favor of lower overall claims figures, the rise in claims likely reflects an increase in layoffs “Claims are likely to remain high in the short term, but we expect initial claims to return to the 200,000 level once the Omicron wave passes.”
The U.S. job market has rebounded strongly from the 2020 coronavirus crisis and its subsequent recession. The country now has a near-record number of job openings, and workers are so confident in their prospects that they say “I quit” in record numbers.
The unemployment rate fell to a 22-month low of 3.9% in December, meaning the labor market was at or near maximum employment.
In total, about 1.6 million people received unemployment benefits in the week ended Jan. 1, a big change from the all-time high of 6.149 million set in early April 2020.
However, Inflation soars worrying millions of Americans. Consumer prices rose 7% in December from a year earlier, the largest increase since June 1982. Economists expect the Fed to raise interest rates in March and possibly three more times this year to cool rising prices.
When COVID-19 struck in March 2020 and government-ordered lockdowns, companies cut millions of jobs and the U.S. unemployment rate soared to 14.7%. Governments have since injected trillions of dollars in stimulus to keep struggling economies afloat. That, combined with the vaccine campaign, helped the economy bounce back.
But the company is working to bring employees back to work and looking for qualified employees to replace those who have quit in recent months. Employers posted 10.6 million job openings at the end of November.
The U.S. workforce is down about 2.2 million people compared to before the coronavirus pandemic. Workers are increasingly confident about their job prospects.
Those who are employed are more daring to seek better deals from big companies, a trend the U.S. hasn’t seen in decades.U.S. corporate giants are facing more collective bargaining challenges, including coffee chains Starbucks and grain manufacturers Kellogg’s.
data continues underscore A shift in the balance of power between a company and its employees.
4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November, 4.2 million in October and 4.4 million in September, a record high. This phenomenon is called by economists the “big resignation”.