Jobless Claims Fall for Seventh Straight Week Despite Record Quits Levels

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Jobless claims fell for the seventh straight week, coming in at 268,000, dropping 1,000 from the previous week’s revised level for the week ending Nov. 13. The Department of Labor reports this is the lowest level for initial jobless claims since March 14, 2020, when the number was 256,000 and the labor market was just beginning to feel the effects of the pandemic.

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The one-week moving average, a better indicator of overall volatility, decreased by 5,750 from the previous week’s revised average at 272,750. This is also the lowest level it has been at since March 14, 2020, when it was 225,500.

Continuing claims, which provide an estimation for the number of people receiving regular state benefits, also fell to a pandemic low of 2.08 million in the week ending Nov. 6 from 2.21 million a week earlier.

While the numbers are encouraging, and show a clear trend downward, the figures are still higher than they were pre-pandemic, signaling a recovery that has yet to fully take off. The strain has been exacerbated by historically tight labor markets, where labor demand is very high, but workers are not as willing to fill the demand.

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The quits rate — which is a measurement of workers leaving jobs as a share of overall employment — was 3% this September. This is a record high as GOBankingRates previously reported.

This means that although available positions are abundant, employers are having a difficult time holding on to their workers. There are a number of factors that could be contributing to this, chief among them is the high number of available positions, which empowers workers to search for other positions readily. This directly affects specific sectors like hospitality which have been adding the most amount of positions to the job market in recent weeks. Jobs in these sectors can easily be replaced, potentially giving workers the confidence to leave if unsatisfied and look for better opportunities.

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Disruptions in childcare due to the pandemic and Delta variant fears have also been contributing to the shortage.

The Department of Labor reports that the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Nov. 6 were in Kentucky (+6,716), Ohio (+3,846), Tennessee (+2,411), Illinois (+1,893), and Michigan (+1,564), while the largest decreases were in California (-4,222), District of Columbia (-1,794), and Louisiana (-1,028).

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