Weekly Unemployment Claims at 223,000, Falling for Third Week

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Weekly unemployment claims continued their downward trend for the third week, the week ending Feb. 5. The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 223,000. This figure represents a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week’s revised level, according to the Labor Department.

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The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 — from 238,000 to 239,000.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 230,000 applications in the week ending Feb. 5. The new weekly figure also marks a labor situation improvement, as the corresponding week last year saw 863,000 claims, according to Labor Department data.

Last week’s four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility, was 253,250, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised average.

Jeanniey Walden, CMO of DailyPay, told GOBankingRates that less than a week after a blockbuster jobs report caught economists by surprise, “more data confirms what we are seeing across our markets — that the labor market is still tightening.”

“Jobless claims declined to 223,000, down a whopping 74% from this time last year. Continuing claims remained at a five-decade low, as the omicron effect further receded. With labor supply an increasing concern, employers are implementing new tools to engage with their workforces to enhance recruiting, retention and productivity,” Walden added.

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The states that saw the largest decrease in claims for the week include Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois and California, according to the Labor Department data. Michigan had by far the largest increase in claims.

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In another encouraging sign — and despite the omicron surge and a tight labor market — total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 467,000 in January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Feb. 4. This figure was well above analysts’ expectations. The growth was driven by gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and transportation and warehousing.

The unemployment rate was little changed at 4%, according to the BLS report. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected employers to add just 150,000 jobs last month.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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