The Labor Department announced on Dec. 16, that Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose as the labor market hit a slight bump in its recovery from last year’s CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
Jobless claims rose to 206,000 last week by 18,000, bouncing off of the prior week’s 52-year low, which was higher than the estimated median economic forecast of 195,000 claims for the week.
The four-week average, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, whose previous week’s sum in unemployment claims were revised to 188,000 from the 184,000 initially estimated, is still at the lowest level since mid-November 1969.
Continuing claims fell to 1.85 million for the week that ended Dec. 4, down by 154,000 from the previous week, which beat estimates.
The steady decline in new claims is an encouraging sign that fewer people are being laid off, though the labor market has yet to fully recover from pre-pandemic numbers.
“As expected, seasonally adjusted new jobless claims have risen a bit from the recent low level,” said Mark Hamrick, Senior Economic Analyst, Bankrate, in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times. “Tis the season for some bumps in the statistical road related to seasonal adjustment.”
Weekly claims, which are a proxy for layoffs, have fallen steadily since hitting an all time high at 900,000 in one week in January.
“New claims, a proxy for layoffs, remain remarkably low,” he added. “The low level is more remarkable considering the horrific journey witnessed over the past nearly two years including the 22 million jobs lost in just two months in 2020 as the economy ground to a halt because of COVID.”
Unemployment claims have been fluctuating around 200,000 over the last few weeks, about the same threshold of filings averaged before March 2020 when the pandemic hit.
Claims have declined from a record high of 6.149 million in early April of 2020.
The outbreak of the CCP virus kept consumers at home and businesses were forced to close or reduce hours and lay off staff, with companies dismissing an unheard of 22.4 million employees in March and April 2020.
Since then, the United States has regained nearly 18.5 million jobs, about 3.9 million jobs short of where it stood in February 2020 prior to the pandemic.
By October, businesses and other employers were posting a near-record 11 million job openings.
Government aid and stimulus helped inspire confidence in the economy and as the rollout of vaccines encouraged states to open up after months of lockdowns, allowing a recovery in the job market.
“The economic recovery continues at a robust pace despite no shortage of challenges with COVID and inflation topping the list,” said Hamrick. “As the nation’s unemployment rate continues to decline, reflecting an improving job market, individuals and households face constructive prospects for their personal finances as we move into the new year.”
The economy did see a slowdown at the end of the third quarter, when worker and material shortages constrained recovery in manufacturing and construction, causing the slowest pace in growth since the start of the pandemic.
Last month’s jobs report showed that the unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent from 4.6 percent in October.
Employers added 210,000 jobs in November, with at least 2.5 million people still receiving unemployment benefits in the last week of the month.
“With job openings as high as they are, and so many employers scrambling to retain and/or add personnel, job security might be viewed as one of the gifts of the current holiday season, at least from a worker’s point of view,” Hamrick said.
Americans have been shopping and spending more despite the supply chain bottlenecks facing retailers, as the holiday sales season picks up and unemployment declines.
Newly announced CCP virus variants like Omicron are posing a risk to job recovery, according to officials, as fear of rising infections may discourage some people from looking for work.
Economists are expecting jobless claims to remain at the same levels heading into 2022 due to the nationwide labor shortage.
From The Epoch Times