New data from the Labor Department reveals that weekly jobless claims have fallen by 17,000 to 232,000 the week that ended on February 19th. This latest drop continues to downward trend seen in the United States, as fewer and fewer workers are being laid off with each new week. Continuing claims have also decreased by 112,000 to 1.476 million. All of this comes as the Labor Department also confirms that unemployment rolls have shrunk to new levels not seen since 1970. All of this new data, some of the data clearly on a trend, points to a labor market working towards continuous recovery.
Employers continue to keep from laying off workers for a variety of reasons. The ongoing labor shortage — though hiring has increased in the past few months — is mainly why many employers are not laying off workers to any large degree. Employers are not confident that they can easily find qualified workers, so they are less likely to lay off the workers that they currently have. The near-record of open jobs posted by employers shows just how many businesses are looking for workers — and yet can’t seem to find them.
Last week, weekly jobless claims did increase slightly, which many economists believed wouldn’t harm economic growth or the labor market’s recovery. Now, weekly claims have decreased yet again. The Omicron variant, which many businesses were impacted by as it is a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus, was thought to possibly negatively impact weekly claims and unemployment. However, this worry largely didn’t come to pass.
Overall, economists believe that the labor market is in a good condition — when it comes to weekly jobless claims and unemployment. For many analysts, they believe this is probably as close to full employment the country will have for now. However, there are still millions of jobs that employers need filled, and this could continue to negatively impact business activity as a whole.
The labor market as a whole has obviously greatly struggled throughout the pandemic, from the very beginning. Millions of people were laid off during the pandemic, from 2020 to 2021, until Americans started to become fully vaccinated and regulations started to largely go away. However, new variants of the virus continue to appear and cause issues — and sometimes do result in weekly jobless claim increases, which has been seen previously. However, layoffs haven’t surged on a week-to-week basis since early 2021.
For 2022, many economists are hoping that the labor market will fully recover. Many signs, especially this latest Labor Department, point in this direction, towards full recovery. Of course, hiring will greatly impact this recovery. If workers continue to find new jobs, and if workers reenter the workforce after being laid off, then this will positively help the labor market as a whole.
Hiring has already picked up for the new year, which is positive. However, many workers are voluntarily quitting or leaving their jobs, mainly because they are confident that they will easily find another job. Many are also going through career changes or retiring, resulting in a large number of quits. This can also impact the labor market.