Jobless Claims Remain Near Record Lows

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Harry Wilmerding Contributor
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The number of Americans who filed new unemployment claims totaled 205,000 in the week ending Dec. 18, a new post-pandemic low.

The Labor Department figure shows an unchanged amount of claims from the previous week ending Dec. 11. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimated that claims would remain around last week’s reported level of 206,000, just above the lowest number in 52 years.

Economists believe the surging Omicron COVID-19 variant could push layoffs higher in the upcoming weeks as consumers rethink their holiday travel and leisure plans, the WSJ reported. (RELATED: NHL Withdraws From Beijing Olympics, Will Not Send Any Athletes)

Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US LLP, thinks the claims will continue to decrease with the U.S. being “in the early stages of what looks like a modest pullback in consumer behavior as people weigh the risks of sitting next to people in a restaurant or on an airplane,” he told the WSJ.

Claims increased while job-creation slowed in the late summer and early fall as the Delta variant ripped through the U.S., according to the WSJ.

“The situation is still very fluid,” Kathy Bostjancic, an economist at Oxford Economics, told the WSJ, noting that the impact of the variants will be evident in the weeks ahead. “I do think there’s going to be a possibility of initial jobless claims moving higher.”

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