March 31, 2022 – The Labor Department reported that 202,000 Americans have filed new claims for state unemployment benefits, an increase of 14,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 187,000 to 188,000. The four-week moving average was 208,500, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 211,750 to 212,000.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 0.9 percent for the week, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week was 1,307,000, a decrease of 35,000 from the previous week’s revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since December 27, 1969 when it was 1,304,000. The previous week’s level was revised down by 8,000 from 1,350,000 to 1,342,000. The four-week moving average was 1,389,000, a decrease of 40,500 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since February 7, 1970 when it was 1,385,250. The previous week’s average was revised down by 2,000 from 1,431,500 to 1,429,500.
“Last week’s figure is still a low level of claims consistent with extremely tight labor market conditions,” Nancy Vanden Houten, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, said in a report. “We expect initial claims to remain around 200k or lower as employers, who continue to struggle to attract and retain workers, are likely to keep layoffs to a minimum.”
“That is still a low level of claims consistent with extremely tight labor market conditions,” economists with Oxford Economics said. “We expect initial claims to remain around 200k or lower as employers, who continue to struggle to attract and retain workers, are likely to keep layoffs to a minimum.”
Employers added 678,000 jobs in February, the largest monthly total since July, while the unemployment rate dropped to a pandemic low of 3.8 percent. The new jobs numbers for March are released tomorrow.
Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell reiterated his assessment of the labor market’s strength last week, 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 Monday. “By many measures, the labor market is extremely tight, significantly tighter than the very strong job market just before the pandemic.”
“Demand for labor remains strong, apparent in the near-record levels of job openings which are far outpacing the number of unemployed in the economy,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a research note. “That should keep layoffs low, for now.”
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.
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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.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media