Weekly unemployment claims in the US

The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial unemployment insurance claims rose last week but held steady at levels consistent with what the labor market looked like before the Covid-19 pandemic devastated the job picture in the United States.

First-time filings for the week ending November 27 totaled 222,000, less than the 240,000 Wall Street had expected. This was up from 194,000 from the previous week, but this total, the lowest since 1969, was revised down from the initial figure of 199,000 reported.

The totals are the product of heavy seasonal adjustments, although the unadjusted number was actually lower, at 211,896.

The report comes amid signs of a tightening labor market, as workers leave their positions to take new jobs at the highest level on record and as hiring continues at a rapid pace.

In addition to the bright outlook for initial claims, continuing claims are down another 107,000 and are now below 2 million for the first time since the early days of the pandemic. The last time continuing claims, which was a week behind the headline figure, were currently below 1.96 million on March 14, 2020.

Virginia and Texas combined to see a drop of more than 15,000 claims filed for the week, according to unadjusted data.

Thursday’s report comes a day before the closely watched nonfarm payrolls count from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That number is expected to show 573,000 new jobs added in November, after a gain of 531,000 in October. The unemployment rate is expected to drop to 4.5%.

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