Jobless Claims Drop To 281,000 Holding Near Last Weeks Lower Levels

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Harry Wilmerding Contributor
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The number of Americans who filed new unemployment claims decreased to 281,000 last week as employers compete for workers in a tight labor market where inflation and supply chain disruptions plague the country.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics figure released Thursday shows a 10,000 claim decrease in the number of new jobless claims compared to the week ending Oct. 23 when jobless claims dropped to 290,000. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, when jobless claims dropped to 256,000.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal believed jobless claims would fall to 290,000 Thursday. (RELATED: Treasury Department Hires First-Ever ‘Counselor For Racial Equity’) 

“You’re seeing continued progress back towards the average before the pandemic,” Nela Richardson, an economist at the human-resource firm Automatic Data Processing Inc., told the WSJ. “It has been a challenge for employers, especially in low-paid service jobs, to keep workers on staff.”

Weekly claims have stayed below the recent peak of 424,000 in mid-July but remain above 2019’s weekly average of 218,000, the WSJ reported.

The U.S. economy recorded an increase of 194,000 jobs in September, when the unemployment rate fell to 4.8%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced on Oct. 8. A record 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August as workers seek employment opportunities with more convenient hours, better pay or improved working conditions, The Washington Post reported.

Meanwhile, inflation continues to surge throughout the country as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.4% in September, bringing the key inflation indicator’s year-over-year increase to 5.4%. Experts surveyed by the WSJ see high inflation lasting well into 2022 as supply chain bottlenecks worsen, increasing prices and limiting production.

The surge in inflation, supply chain bottlenecks and labor shortages have caused companies to warn customers of fewer discounts during the holiday season. Experts told the WSJ that consumers should prepare to pay full prices for goods during the holiday season as companies attempt to offset high transportation and material costs.

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