Unemployment claims drop for third straight week

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misstated last month’s unemployment rate. It increased slightly to 4 percent.

New applications for jobless aid declined by 16,000 last week, dropping for the third consecutive week, according to figures released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

For the week ending Feb. 5, seasonally adjusted initial claims reached 223,000, the data found. The four-week moving average was 253,250 last week, 2,000 less than the revised average from the previous week.

In November, jobless claims decreased to levels not seen since before the onset of the pandemic. However, those numbers turned around in the weeks that followed, as applications for jobless aid rose while the omicron variant fueled a surge in coronavirus infections. 

Last month, the country’s unemployment rate increased slightly to 4 percent, despite job gains, according to Labor Department data. 

At the same, data released last month by the Census Bureau found that millions of people missed work at the start of the year because they, or a person they cared for, came down with the illness. 

The Labor Department also recorded 6 million Americans in January who reported being unable to work last month due to a pandemic-related closure or lost business. The figure is nearly twice the level of 3.1 million the agency recorded in December.

This story was updated at 7:37 p.m.

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