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U.S. Jobless Claims Rise Slightly in Tight Labor Market

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U.S. unemployment filings rose slightly last week, a sign the labor market remains tight despite layoffs at some companies and broader economic uncertainty.

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, rose by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 230,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was near the 2019 weekly average of around 218,000 when the labor market was also robust.

Continuing claims, which reflect the number of people seeking ongoing unemployment benefits, rose to their highest level since late February, though they also remain historically low. Continuing claims increased by 62,000 to 1.67 million in the week ended Nov. 26.

Jesse Wheeler, an economic analyst at Morning Consult, said the slow rise in continuing unemployment claims is an indication workers are remaining on unemployment insurance for longer instead of immediately finding a new position.

“People who are losing their jobs are finding it more difficult to find a new job,” he said.

The latest report comes as the labor market remains tight, with continued job growth and low unemployment. Still, several major companies have laid off workers or stopped hiring in recent months.

Monthly job gains remain robust. Employers added 263,000 jobs in November, holding near the strong gains of the previous three months, when they averaged 282,000 a month, the Labor Department said last Friday. Average hourly earnings grew 5.1% in November from a year earlier, holding above the prepandemic pace of roughly 3%.

Layoffs have been concentrated in the technology and media industries and sectors of the economy sensitive to interest rates such as housing and finance.

Drink and snack maker

PepsiCo Inc.

is laying off headquarters workers, joining other companies cutting back on white-collar positions while holding on to front-line and blue-collar employees. The cuts are expected to affect office workers at its North America beverage business and packaged-foods businesses.

News organizations, TV networks and entertainment studios, including

Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.’s

CNN and Paramount Global’s television-production units, have also announced layoffs.

The layoffs haven’t led to a sharp rise in claims figures. It can take several weeks for affected workers to file an unemployment claim. Others may quickly find a new job in a still tight labor market or forgo making a claim.

The four-week moving average of weekly claims, which smooths out volatility, increased by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 230,000.

Job openings have also remained elevated, far outpacing the number of unemployed people looking for work.

The layoff announcements just keep coming. As interest rates continue to climb and earnings slump, WSJ’s Dion Rabouin explains why we can expect to see a bigger wave of layoffs in the near future. Illustration: Elizabeth Smelov

Write to Austen Hufford at [email protected]

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8



U.S. unemployment filings rose slightly last week, a sign the labor market remains tight despite layoffs at some companies and broader economic uncertainty.

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, rose by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 230,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was near the 2019 weekly average of around 218,000 when the labor market was also robust.

Continuing claims, which reflect the number of people seeking ongoing unemployment benefits, rose to their highest level since late February, though they also remain historically low. Continuing claims increased by 62,000 to 1.67 million in the week ended Nov. 26.

Jesse Wheeler, an economic analyst at Morning Consult, said the slow rise in continuing unemployment claims is an indication workers are remaining on unemployment insurance for longer instead of immediately finding a new position.

“People who are losing their jobs are finding it more difficult to find a new job,” he said.

The latest report comes as the labor market remains tight, with continued job growth and low unemployment. Still, several major companies have laid off workers or stopped hiring in recent months.

Monthly job gains remain robust. Employers added 263,000 jobs in November, holding near the strong gains of the previous three months, when they averaged 282,000 a month, the Labor Department said last Friday. Average hourly earnings grew 5.1% in November from a year earlier, holding above the prepandemic pace of roughly 3%.

Layoffs have been concentrated in the technology and media industries and sectors of the economy sensitive to interest rates such as housing and finance.

Drink and snack maker

PepsiCo Inc.

is laying off headquarters workers, joining other companies cutting back on white-collar positions while holding on to front-line and blue-collar employees. The cuts are expected to affect office workers at its North America beverage business and packaged-foods businesses.

News organizations, TV networks and entertainment studios, including

Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.’s

CNN and Paramount Global’s television-production units, have also announced layoffs.

The layoffs haven’t led to a sharp rise in claims figures. It can take several weeks for affected workers to file an unemployment claim. Others may quickly find a new job in a still tight labor market or forgo making a claim.

The four-week moving average of weekly claims, which smooths out volatility, increased by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 230,000.

Job openings have also remained elevated, far outpacing the number of unemployed people looking for work.

The layoff announcements just keep coming. As interest rates continue to climb and earnings slump, WSJ’s Dion Rabouin explains why we can expect to see a bigger wave of layoffs in the near future. Illustration: Elizabeth Smelov

Write to Austen Hufford at [email protected]

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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