Jobless Claims Rise After Hitting Lowest Level Since 1968

April 14, 2022 – The Labor Department reported that 185,000 Americans have filed new claims for state unemployment benefits, an increase of 18,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 166,000 to 167,000. The four-week moving average was 172,250, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 170,000 to 170,250. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.1 percent for the week, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week was 1,475,000, a decrease of 48,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 1,523,000. The four-week moving average was 1,511,500, a decrease of 29,750 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 1,541,250.

The latest weekly jobless claims data comes on the heels of another solid monthly jobs report from the Labor Department, which showed a significant rise in hirings and a drop in the jobless rate to a near 50-year low. Non-farm payrolls grew by 431,000 in March, while the unemployment rate improved by a greater-than-expected margin to 3.6 percent. And as of last month, the U.S. labor market was just about 1.6 million payrolls short of its pre-pandemic levels.

“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.”

Related: 5 Actions Business Leaders Can Take as War In Ukraine Deepens

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

U.S.-based employers announced 21,387 cuts in March, up 40.3 percent from the 15,245 cuts announced in February. It is the highest monthly total since October 2021, when 22,822 cuts were announced, according to a report just released from global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Challenges, Opportunities and Leadership Implications of the Great Resignation
In a new report, Russell Reynolds Associates says that availability of key talent and skills is a leading cause of concern among business leaders. And it’s the No. 1 issue they feel least ready to face. Forty percent of employees, in fact, say that they are “at least somewhat likely” to depart from their current job in the next three to six months.

March’s total is 30 percent lower than the 30,603 cuts announced in the same month last year. In the first quarter of 2022, employers announced 55,696 cuts, down 62 percent from the 144,686 cuts announced through the same period in 2021. It is the lowest quarterly total since the third quarter of 2021, when 52,560 cuts were recorded.

“There appears to be a return of a healthier churn in the labor market,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Some U.S. employers report hiring is getting easier, particularly with the incentives many companies put in place to attract and retain talent. Meanwhile, inflation impacts and war concerns are causing workers who were depending on savings or investments to seek out paid 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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