It’s a not-so-good news, not-too-bad news week for the U.S. economy, jobs-wise.
The not really bad news: First-time claims for unemployment assistance crept up for the first time in several weeks, rising to 222,000, up some 28,000 from the previous week’s total, which was the lowest it had been since 1969.
The not-so-good news came courtesy the Department of Labor’s November jobs report, which showed the U.S. economy added just 210,000 jobs in November, fewer than half of the 550,000 jobs some economists were projecting.
According to the labor department, the total number of workers claiming unemployment benefits fell to 1.9 million. A year ago, when additional federal unemployment assistance was still in place, that number was some 20 million.
Economist Mark Hamrick told Forbes the economy continues to get better after the recession caused by the pandemic.
“Between the relatively low level of jobless claims and the steady decline in the nation’s unemployment rate, the economy has continued to heal from the sharp recession caused by Covid-19,” Hamrick, told Forbes in emailed comments Thursday. “Supply chain disruptions, worker shortages and inflation have been the other surprising sides of a world that we couldn’t have imagined just a couple of years ago.”
According to USA Today, have made some 18 million new hires since April 2020, Friday’s job report said some 535,000 jobs were added in November.
That still leaves the U.S. economy with some 4 million fewer jobs thStill, the United States remains 4 million short of the jobs that existed in February 2020.
And economists are warning there’s still an unknown factor out there: The new COVID-19 omicron variant. “Workers are in high demand and businesses are reluctant to reduce their workforce amid persisting shortages,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, told USA Today. “Our base case was that supply (of workers) would gradually return as the cushion from savings diminished. However, renewed health concerns are a downside risk that may prevent people from returning to the workforce over coming months.”