More individuals filed jobless claims within the first week of 2022. “Blame Omicron,” one knowledgeable mentioned.

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The variety of individuals submitting for jobless support rose barely within the first week of the 12 months, to the best degree since November.

Some 230,000 individuals filed first-time unemployment claims within the week ended January 8, the Labor Department mentioned Thursday. That’s a rise of 23,000 from the earlier week, however nonetheless consistent with typical weekly ranges earlier than the pandemic.

Weekly jobless functions, a proxy for layoffs, have now risen for 4 of the final 5 weeks, presumably an indication that the Omicron variant is having an impression on the job market, which has bounced again strongly from final 12 months’s coronavirus recession.

“Blame the increase in first-time claimants on the Omicron,” Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, mentioned in a notice.

Altogether, 1.6 million individuals have been accumulating jobless support the week that ended January 1.


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With indicators that Omicron instances could also be peaking within the United Kingdom and declining in South Africa, the place the variant was first recognized, economists hope any job market disruptions can be short-lived.

“Claims may remain elevated in the near term, but we expect initial claims will gravitate back to the 200K level once the Omicron wave passes,” analysts at Oxford Economics wrote in a notice.

Companies are holding onto employees at a time when it is troublesome to discover replacements. Employers posted 10.6 million job openings in November, the fifth-highest month-to-month whole on document going again to 2000. A document 4.5 million employees stop their jobs in November — an indication that they have been assured sufficient to search for one thing higher.

Hiring slowed in November and December, which economists attributed to a scarcity of employees. The unemployment price fell final month to a pandemic low of three.9%, signaling that these in search of jobs are discovering them pretty simply.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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