New data reveals that the weekly jobless claims for the week that ended on December 11th remain unchanged at 205,000. In total, this results in about 1.9 million Americans collecting traditional unemployment benefits. The amount of people collecting unemployment remains at a historical low as a result, with signs also pointing to a tightening labor market.
This latest news comes after a record number of job openings were recorded, signaling that many employers are still searching for workers to hire amid a national labor shortage. In October, the United States recorded a record number of 11 million job openings. While hiring has increased with each month, hiring has also slowed down quite a bit, even with the busy holiday shopping season and seasonal jobs. Employers have also worked to try to convince workers to reenter the workforce with higher wages and benefits, though some Americans still have not returned to work.
The nation is still gripped in a labor shortage, even with hirings increasing every month. Because employers have not been able to hire many new workers, it does appear as if they have stopped laying workers off. This is likely why the weekly jobless claims have stayed incredibly low for the past few weeks. Employers can’t trust that they’ll be able to quickly fill the positions, so they keep on the employees that they have, for the most part.
Americans are also voluntarily quitting their jobs at a high rate, signaling that they have faith in the job market and that they’ll be able to get a new job quickly. Again, this is likely because of the labor shortage and the mass amount of job openings. In October, 4.2 million people voluntarily quit their jobs. In September, 4.4 million people quit.
Many Americans are voluntarily leaving their jobs to retire, or to change their career paths. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in people deciding to retire or quit. It doesn’t appear as if this will change any time soon. While the amount of people quitting has slowed down a bit, the rate is still much higher than normal with each new month.
While it is positive that the weekly jobless claims have remained unchanged and not increased, the labor shortage has also led to the labor market tightening. The Omicron variant of the coronavirus could also impact the labor market in various ways. While the variant has yet to really impact economic activity, this could be because of the busy holiday shopping season. When sales and the holiday spirit slow down, we could start to see how the variant is impacting how people spend money — especially if the highly contagious variant causes cases to continue to surge once again around the nation.
Therefore, many analysts are closely watching the weekly jobless claims to understand just how the coronavirus variant is impacting the labor market. We likely will not see drastic change until the new year, unless the variant surges in a short amount of time. Already, we’ve seen the Omicron variant disrupt society in various ways, so economists will be waiting to see if it impacts the labor market, just as the Delta variant did earlier this year.