Despite indicators that the US labor market is recovering from last year’s coronavirus recession, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased last week.
Unemployment claims increased by 18,000 to a total of 206,000, which is still low by historical standards. According to Department of Labor numbers issued Thursday, the four-week average, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, decreased by 16,000 to less than 204,000, the lowest level since mid-November 1969.
In the week ending Dec. 4, 1.8 million Americans were receiving regular unemployment benefits, down 154,000 from the previous week.
Weekly claims, which are a proxy for layoffs, have been slowly declining for the most of the year after peaking at 900,000 in early January. They’ve dropped below the 220,000-per-week level seen before the coronavirus epidemic hit the US economy in March 2020, forcing customers to remain at home as a health precaution and companies to close or decrease hours, as well as lay off workers. Employers shed a stunning 22.4 million jobs in March and April of last year.
Massive government funding and vaccination rollouts aided in the recovery of the economy and job market by providing Americans with the confidence and funds to go on a shopping spree, typically online, for items like lawn furniture and coffee machines. The United States has gained roughly 18.5 million jobs since April of last year. However, the economy is still 3.9 million jobs short of where it was in February 2020, and COVID varieties such as omicron represent a threat to recovery.
Last month, employers added a lackluster 210,000 positions. However, the jobless rate fell to a historic low of 4.2 percent in November, down from 4.6 percent in October, according to the November jobs data.
In October, businesses and other employers advertised a near-record 11 million job opportunities. And 4.2 million individuals departed their employment, down from 4.4 million in September, indicating that they are confident enough in their future to hunt for something better.
In a research report, Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group, stated, “Demand for labor is quite robust and employees are in limited supply, therefore layoffs are relatively low.” “Those people who do lose their jobs can swiftly find new ones.” Right now, the largest issue facing the job market is a scarcity of workers.′′