Initial jobless claims flat for the week

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Initial unemployment claims were unchanged last week, amid questions about the omicron variant’s impact on the job market, the Department of Labor said Thursday.

Seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance were 205,000 for the week ending Dec. 18, the same level as the previous week’s revised figure, the Department of Labor said. Last week’s figure was in line with economists’ expectations.

The four-week moving average for claims rose slightly, from 203,500 to 206,250.

“With so much uncertainty now and the high level of concern about the Omicron variant, we’ll take stability when we can get it,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate, said in a statement. “Fortunately, there’s no evidence in this data of a new wave of fresh job loss. New claims are only slightly above the lowest point in decades notched a couple of weeks ago.”

“The pandemic’s resurgence is affecting the economy,” Hamrick added. “The question is for how long and how much, and it [is] too early to know the answers.”

Seasonally adjusted continuing claims for unemployment benefits was 1,859,000 for the week ending Dec. 11, the lowest level since March 14, 2020. The four-week moving average for continuing claims also hit its lowest level since that time period, the Department of Labor said.

“Continuing claims hit their lowest level since March of 2020, and while this is partially a measure of those who have left the labor force, it shows many long-term unemployed Americans are back at work,” said Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Unemployment
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