Jobless Claims Fall by 8,000 Remaining Near Historic Low

May 26, 2022 – The Labor Department reported that 210,000 Americans have filed new claims for state unemployment benefits, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 218,000. The four-week moving average was 206,750, an increase of 7,250 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 199,500.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.0 percent for the week, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week was 1,346,000, an increase of 31,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 2,000 from 1,317,000 to 1,315,000. The four-week moving average was 1,347,500, a decrease of 14,250 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since January 17, 1970 when it was 1,340,000. The previous week’s average was revised down by 500 from 1,362,250 to 1,361,750.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week were in California (2.0), New Jersey (1.9), Alaska (1.7), New York (1.4), Puerto Rico (1.4), Massachusetts (1.3), Rhode Island (1.3), Illinois (1.2), Minnesota (1.2), Pennsylvania (1.2), and the Virgin Islands (1.2). The largest increases in initial claims for the week were in Kentucky (+6,712), California (+1,968), Illinois (+1,742), Ohio (+1,189), and Florida (+629), while the largest decreases were in Michigan (-384), Georgia (-325), Colorado (-301), Arizona (-278), and District of Columbia (-251).

Earlier this month, the government reported America’s employers added 428,000 jobs in April, with the unemployment rate coming in at 3.6 percent, just above the lowest level in a half-century. Hiring gains have been strikingly consistent in the face of the worst inflation in four decades, with employers adding at least 400,000 jobs for 12 straight months.

“Claims are still at very low levels, underscoring historically tight labor market conditions,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. “We expect initial claims to remain below (200,000) in the weeks ahead, as employers, who continue to struggle to attract and retain workers, will keep layoffs to a minimum.”

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Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell reiterated his assessment of the labor market’s strength earlier this month, just days after calling the current job market “tight to an unhealthy level” in his post-Fed meeting press conference last week. “The labor market has substantial momentum. Employment growth powered through the difficult Omicron wave, adding 1.75 million jobs over the past three months,” Mr. Powell said in a speech last week. “By many measures, the labor market is extremely tight, significantly tighter than the very strong job market just before the pandemic.”

Job Cuts

Job cuts in the United States rose for a second month in a row in April as employers assessed costs and the growing risk of inflation in a labor market that has mostly seen record demand for workers over the past year, employment tracker Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc showed on Thursday.

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U.S. employers announced 24,286 cuts in April, a 14 percent increase from the 21,387 tracked in March and up six percent from the 22,913 cuts monitored in April 2021, the firm’s latest monthly report showed. It was also the first time in a year when job cuts were higher than the corresponding month a year earlier.

“Job cut plans appear to be on the rise, particularly as companies assess market conditions, inflationary risks, and capital spending,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Despite this, job openings are still at record highs. Workers who are being cut will have lots of opportunities and will likely land quickly.”

While job cuts rose for a second month in a row, the number of layoffs — 79,982 — were the lowest recorded in total between a January to April period, the data showed.

Separately, private payrolls processor ADP reported on Wednesday that private employers in the United States added 247,000 jobs in April, just about half of March levels and the smallest in two years as the labor market hovered at full employment.

Related: Major Paradigm Shifts Coming Out of the Coronavirus Crisis

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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