Us economy: new job claims rise last week

Us economy: new job claims rise last week

After the jobs report is released in Manhattan, New York City, a sign for a job fair is seen on 5th Avenue.

WASHINGTON Reuters - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, likely due to a winter wave of COVID-19 infections disrupting business activity, which could affect job growth this month.

The Labor Department said that initial claims for unemployment benefits increased to a seasonally adjusted 286,000 for the week ended January 15 from 231,000 in the previous week. Economists polled by Reuters had predicted 220,000 applications for the latest week.

The United States is reporting an average of 732,245 new coronaviruses a day, according to a Reuters analysis of official data, in a winter surge caused by the Omicron variant. There are signs that cases are starting to subside in some areas, including hard-hit New York.

Economists think claims will start trending lower as infections decline. In early April 2020, claims fell from a record high of 6.149 million. The labor market conditions are tighter.

There are 10.6 million job openings at the end of November, and employers are desperate for workers. The unemployment rate is at a 22 month low of 3.9%, an indication that the labor market is close to maximum employment.

The claims data covered the period during which the government surveyed businesses for the nonfarm payrolls component of January's employment report. Claims are higher than their level in mid-December.

There are some payrolls gains that could be moderate this month because of the absences caused by Omicron, as well as reduced operations or temporary business closures. The economy added 199,000 jobs in December, the fewest in a year. The workforce is about 2.2 million people smaller than before the epidemic.