Unexpected increase in weekly US unemployment benefit applications

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The number of Americans applying for new unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly in the first week of January amid rising COVID-19 cases, but remained at a level consistent with rapidly tightening labor market conditions.

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Initial applications for state unemployment benefits rose by 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 230,000 for the week ending Jan. 8, the US Department of Labor announced on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 200,000 applications for the past week.

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Applications remain below pre-pandemic level, indicating a strengthening of labor market conditions. They have fallen from the record high of 6.149 million in early April 2020.

Unemployment benefit applications remain very low despite the increase in coronavirus cases due to the Omicron variant, which has been shut down by airlines and schools.

The government said last Friday that the unemployment rate fell to a 22-month low of 3.9% in December, indicating that the labor market is at or near peak employment.

The workforce is about 2.2 million smaller than before the pandemic.

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Source From: Capital

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