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New Claims for Unemployment Benefits Rise

Featured, National

Unemployment claims | Image by Vitalii Vodolazskyi

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The number of new claims filed for unemployment benefits ticked upward in the last week of April, after successive weeks of decline.

For the week ending April 30, new jobless claims rose 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 200,000, exceeding the 182,000 new claims previously predicted by economists for the week.

However, Reuters reports that economists have brushed off last week’s rise in initial claims on data volatility over shifting holidays such as Easter, Passover, and Spring Break.

Per Reuters, 200,000 is still consistent with strong demand for workers and is far below the record-high number of new claims filed in April of 2020, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 6.137 million new claims filed in the first half of that month.

Continuing claims for unemployment dropped by 19,000 to 1.384 million during the week ending April 23, 2022, the lowest number of continuing claims since January of 1970.

“The latest level of initial claims filings is still pretty low by broad historical standards, and continuing claims filings kept trending lower through today’s report,” Daniel Silver, an economist with JPMorgan, stated last week. “So overall, we believe that the labor market remains strong.”

Despite increased job cuts and layoffs in the last two months, the labor market has remained tight. Job cuts by U.S.-based companies rose 14% to 24,286 in April. Last week’s report from the Labor Department shows there are a record 11.5 million positions to fill, which is approximately two available jobs for every worker.

According to Michael Stull, senior vice-president at Manpower Group North America, employers “are moving from a world of three candidates for every job to one where a candidate has three jobs to choose from.”

As Reuters reports, the gap in available workers has forced employers to increase wages, contributing to soaring inflation. The first quarter of 2022 saw the largest increase in compensation for American workers in more than two decades. The Employment Cost Index rose 1.4% during the first quarter of the year, besting the 1% increase in the fourth quarter of 2021.

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