A day ahead of the release of the more closely watched monthly jobs report, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing a modest decrease by first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended January 29th.
The report showed initial jobless claims dipped to 238,000, a decrease of 23,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 261,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 245,000 from the 260,000 originally reported for the previous week.
“The recent rise in Covid cases propped up claims, but that increase is unwinding quickly as the Omicron wave recedes,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average crept up to 255,000, an increase of 7,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 247,250.
The report also said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, slid by 44,000 to 1.628 million in the week ended January 22nd.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims also fell by 31,250 to 1,619,750, hitting the lowest level since August of 1973.
Vanden Houten said, “We expect continued claims to stay at these levels or decline further as health conditions improve and faster and broader wage growth draws more workers back into the labor market.”
On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched monthly jobs report for January
Economists currently expect employment to rise by 150,000 jobs in January after climbing by 199,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.9 percent.
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