The number of Americans who filed new unemployment claims increased to 286,000 in the week ending Jan. 15, as the labor market continues to recover after surging COVID-19 cases.
The Labor Department figure shows a 55,000 claim increase compared to the week ending Jan. 8 when claims increased to 231,000. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected claims would decrease to 225,000, MarketWatch reported.
COVID-19 cases have continued to soar throughout the country causing weaker growth forecasts, but some experts think the Omicron coronavirus variant will further disrupt the demand for workers, the WSJ reported.
“Someone who’s dependable, who’s been on the job for a year and doesn’t need to learn the ropes—you don’t want to lay that person off when you’re expecting a spring thaw” in economic activity, Automatic Data Processing (ADP) economist Nela Richardson told the WSJ.
The U.S. economy added only 199,000 in December 2021, but unemployment fell to 3.9% from November’s 4.2% figure. Meanwhile, roughly 6.5 million Americans remained out of work at the end of 2021 as the economy was still 3.5 million jobs short of pre-pandemic levels.
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