Jobless Claims Up Amid Concerns in Eastern Europe

March 10, 2022 – The Labor Department reported that 227,000 Americans have filed new claims for state unemployment benefits, an increase of 11,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 215,000 to 216,000. The four-week moving average was 231,250, an increase of 500 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 230,500 to 230,750. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.1 percent for the week ending February 26, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending February 26 was 1,494,000, an increase of 25,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 7,000 from 1,476,000 to 1,469,000. The four-week moving average was 1,506,500, a decrease of 31,250 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 28, 1970 when it was 1,483,500. The previous week’s average was revised down by 1,750 from 1,539,500 to 1,537,750.

“Demand for labor is strong and there are no reasons to believe that this will change any time soon, barring another wave of a new Covid variant,” said Thomas Simons, money market economist at Jefferies. “We expect that both initial and continuing claims will be biased toward heading lower in the weeks ahead.”

“With seemingly no shortage of sources of turmoil in our world, the U.S. job market has, at least so far, remained a source of relative strength and stability,” Bankrate senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said in a note. He signaled, however, that although “COVID has relaxed its grip,” inflationary pressures and continuing, and potentially growing supply shocks, will have an “inescapable negative impact on the economy.”

“The recent shocking surge in gasoline prices, if sustained, will serve as a costly tax on consumers,” said Mr. Hamrick. “How much that slows economic momentum in the coming days, weeks and beyond, is difficult to precisely gauge and predict at this point.”

“At the moment, the financial market turbulence and coming slowdown in Europe’s economy after Russia invaded Ukraine is having no spillover effect in the U.S.,” FWDBONDS chief economist Christopher S. Rupkey said in a note.

Labor Supply Remains Subdued

“Labor demand is very strong, and while labor force participation has ticked up, labor supply remains subdued,” Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said in congressional testimony last week. “As a result, employers are having difficulties filling job openings, an unprecedented number of workers are quitting to take new jobs, and wages are rising at their fastest pace in many years.”

Mr. Powell offered an upbeat assessment of the U.S. economic backdrop during his semi-annual address before Congress earlier this week. “The labor market is extremely tight … improvements in labor market conditions have been widespread, including for workers at the lower end of the wage distribution as well as for African Americans and Hispanics,” Mr. Powell said during his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee.

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.

“The post-pandemic hiring recovery that has been underway for some time will continue to carry momentum 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.”

There were 9,963 continued weeks claimed filed by former Federal civilian employees, a decrease of 631 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 4,658, an increase of 13 from the prior week. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week were in Alaska (2.4), California (2.4), Illinois (2.4), New Jersey (2.4), Rhode Island (2.4), Minnesota (2.3), Massachusetts (2.2), New York (2.2), Michigan (1.8), Montana (1.8), and Pennsylvania (1.8). The largest increases in initial claims for the week were in Massachusetts (+3,201), Rhode Island (+1,040), District of Columbia (+995), Nevada (+689), and Kansas (+587), while the largest decreases were in Michigan (-9,161), California (-5,412), Florida (-2,182), Ohio (-2,098), and Illinois (-1,777)

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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