The number of workers applying for unemployment benefits in the United States rose last week after hitting a level not seen in over 50 years the week prior, with analysts generally expecting the rebound, in part due to seasonal data adjustments.
First-time filings for unemployment insurance—a proxy for layoffs—came in at 222,000 for the week ending Nov. 27, the Labor Department said in a report (pdf). That’s an increase of 28,000 from the prior week’s revised level of 194,000 and below consensus forecasts of 240,000.
“As expected, there was a bit of a bounce in new jobless claims, but we still end up at a level which isn’t concerning,” Bankrate Senior Economic Analyst Mark Hamrick told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.
“We thought there would be some reversal in new jobless claims related to seasonal adjustment, which might have been responsible for at least a part of the previously reported sharp drop,” Hamrick added, referring to the prior week’s jobless claims figure of 194,000, which was the lowest since 1969.
Continuing claims, which run a week behind the initial filings figure and reflect the total number of people receiving benefits through traditional state programs, fell by 107,000 to 1.96 million—a pandemic-era low.
The rebound in initial claims breaks an eight-week straight run of declines and comes as the emergence of the new Omicron variant has sent jitters across markets and led to speculation about economic effects after a number of countries reacted to its spread with renewed travel bans and other restrictions.
“While we are on guard for any possible impacts from the Omicron variant news, but it’s too early to be seeing that the data. There are many questions yet to be answered regarding possible, if any, future economic impacts,” Hamrick said.
Public health experts have said more time is needed to determine whether Omicron is more transmissible, deadly, or vaccine-resistant than other strains.
The White House said Thursday it believes the currently authorized vaccines provide at least some protection against the new strain and that booster shots strengthen this protection “significantly.”
In a bid to fight the Delta and Omicron variants over the cold winter months, the Biden administration is ramping up restrictions for travelers to and within the United States, requiring more stringent testing protocols and extending the existing mask mandate on domestic flights and public transportation through mid-March.
Other actions the White House announced include encouraging booster shots and making them more readily available, increasing the availability of free at-home COVID-19 tests, and pushing businesses to impose vaccinate-or-test requirements.
“These actions will help keep our economy growing and keep Americans safe from severe COVID-19,” the White House said.
From The Epoch Times