Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Rise as Americans Continue Look for New Employment Opportunities

February 17, 2022 – The Labor Department reported that 248,000 Americans have filed new claims for state unemployment benefits, an increase of 23,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 2,000 from 223,000 to 225,000. The four-week moving average was 243,250, a decrease of 10,500 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 500 from 253,250 to 253,750. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.2 percent for the week, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week was 1,593,000, a decrease of 26,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 2,000 from 1,621,000 to 1,619,000. The four-week moving average was 1,626,250, a decrease of 7,750 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 500 from 1,634,500 to 1,634,000.

A separate government report showed there were 10.9 million job openings in December, and that 4.3 million Americans, or about 2.9 percent of the workforce, quit their jobs that month. That’s down from a fresh high of 4.5 million in November, but well above the pre-pandemic level of about 3.6 million. The data emphasizes how newly empowered workers are quitting their jobs in favor of better wages, working conditions and hours as businesses lure new workers with higher salaries – a trend dubbed the “Great Resignation.”

“Jobless claims rose unexpectedly in the most recent week, but it’s probably noise given other employment data,” said Robert Frick, corporate economist at the Navy Federal Credit Union. “One noise factor: layoffs shot up in a handful of states. We should expect claims to follow the trend of dropping along with omicron cases in the coming weeks.”

“The Omicron wave triggered a brief but startling spike in initial jobless claims, but payroll growth slowed only marginally in January, and the initial data for February from Homebase point to a rebound,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note. “At the same time, we are becoming increasingly convinced that the long-awaited rebound in labor participation is now underway, especially among women, who left the labor force in disproportionate numbers when schools and child care were closed.”

“Participation is unlikely to return to its pre-COVID level, thanks in part to early retirement among older people, who have seen big increases in the value of their homes and other assets, but we hope it will rise far enough to ease the pressure on wage growth,” Mr. Shepherdson said.

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.

There were 10,899 continued weeks claimed filed by former Federal civilian employees the week, an increase of 371 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 4,592, a decrease of 496 from the prior week. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week were in Alaska (2.7), California (2.7), New Jersey (2.6), Minnesota (2.5), Rhode Island (2.4), Massachusetts (2.3), New York (2.3), and Illinois (2.2). The largest increases in initial claims for the week were in Michigan (+2,884), New Jersey (+406), Kansas (+309), Delaware (+235), and Maryland (+148), while the largest decreases were in California (-4,247), Kentucky (-3,962), Tennessee (-2,916), Illinois (-2,303), and Indiana (-1,760).

Global Employer Confidence

Global employer confidence continues to return as 2022 finds the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey of more than 39,000 employers. Employers in 36 of 40 countries report stronger hiring intentions than the previous quarter with greatest demand for IT talent and hospitality workers. Organizations are also offering more flexibility to overcome talent shortages with employers across all sectors preparing a shift to hybrid working as a pathway to even more flexible working options in the longer term.

“The post-pandemic hiring recovery that has been underway for some time will continue to carry momentum into 2022 with employers predicting strong demand for talent across key sectors,” said Jonas Prising, chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup. “Companies all over the world need skilled workers to meet their business objectives and fully participate in the economic global recovery. Talent shortages continue and employers are competing with a talent pool that has not full returned to labor markets due to the pandemic. Organizations need to embrace bold thinking on where, when, and how work gets done to meet what workers want while balancing the requirements of business.”

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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