First-Time Unemployment Claims Climb Back to 230,000

First-time claims for unemployment assistance from American workers fell steadily over the last few months, dipping below 200,000 (the lowest in 50 years) in November and December.

That streak ended last week, when some 230,000 U.S. workers filed such claims, according to statistics released by the Labor Department Thursday.

According to published reports, many experts had expecting the number to remain around the 200,000 mark.

The new figure is an increase of about 23,000 over the previous week, the labor department reported. That hike contributed to a rise in the four-week moving average, which is up some 6,200 to about 211,000.

Some 1.6 million people were collecting jobless aid during the week ending Jan. 1. Still, the unemployment rate fell last month to a pandemic-low 3.9 percent.

The weekly applications, the Washington Post reported, have now risen four of the last five weeks, possibly a sign that the omicron variant is having an impact on the job market, which has bounced back strongly from last year’s coronavirus recession.

According to the labor department statistics, the highest increases came in New York Pennsylvania and Connecticut. The largest decreases? They came in Missouri, Tennessee and Rhode Island.