First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits showed another modest decrease in the week ended February 5th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report said initial jobless claims fell to 223,000, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 239,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 230,000 from the 238,000 originally reported for the previous month.
Jobless claims fell for the third straight week after reaching a three-month high in mid-January amid the surge in coronavirus cases.
“[Jobless claims} have reversed 75% of their Omicron pop in just three weeks, reflecting the rapidly improving health backdrop and confirming that the labor market is strong,” Lydia Boussour, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
She added, “This was echoed by the latest jobs report which depicted a tight labor market that was unshaken by Omicron.”
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also edged down to 253,250, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 255,250.
Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, were unchanged from the previous week’s revised level at 1.621 million in the week ended January 29th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose to 1,634,500, an increase of 16,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,618,000.
The modest increase came after the four-week moving average fell to its lowest level since August of 1973 in the previous week.
Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing employment in the U.S. increased by much more than expected in the month of January.
The Labor Department said employment jumped by 467,000 jobs in January compared to economist estimates for an increase of 150,000 jobs.
The report also showed the increase in employment in December was upwardly revised to 510,000 jobs compared to the previously reported 199,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the unemployment rate inched up to 4.0 percent in January from 3.9 percent in December. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to hold unchanged.
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