The Labor Department’s weekly jobless claims report grew last week, but maintained near a 52-year low.
New jobless claims clocked in at around 220,000 each week throughout 2019, compared to the 188,000 claims reported in early December and the 207,000 seen during the first week of January 2022.
This means that the pace of new unemployment claims has fallen below pre-pandemic levels as job openings approach near record highs.
Although jobless claims were higher than the anticipated 195,000, some economists stated that this period following the holidays can cause numbers to be slightly contorted.
“Signal-to-noise ratio is high at this time of year, because seasonal adjustment over the holidays is extremely difficult, so all forecasts are tentative,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Economics. “The trend, though, is falling.”
Continuing claims have also trended lower, but remain over pre-pandemic numbers at nearly 1.8 million.
“New claims for unemployment benefits remain near decades-low levels,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate. “The question remains whether there will be sufficient workers to fill available positions and how many individuals will be willing to re-join the labor force, by working or looking for work.”