New jobless claims dipped to 900,000, down 26,000 from the previous week’s revised level and below economists’ forecasts of 925,000, according to the weekly report released Thursday (Jan. 21) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The previous week’s level was 926,000, revised down by 39,000. The total number of continued weeks claimed for benefits in all programs for the week ending Jan. 2 was 15.9 million, a decrease of 2.4 million from the previous week.
By way of comparison, there were 2.2 million weekly claims filed for benefits in all programs during the same week in 2020, the BLS said.
“Seasonal adjustment problems are the key factor driving jobless claims right now,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note, per Yahoo. “The trend in claims clearly rose late last year as the third COVID wave triggered restrictions in many states, but it probably is now about flat.”
Jobless claims reached a five-month high during the week ending Jan. 9 but have mostly gone down since the peak of nearly 25 million in May. For 20 consecutive weeks in 2020, claims were above 1 million.
“While we expected initial claims to retrace some of last week’s unexpectedly large increase, job gains in January may be minimal given ongoing COVID disruptions,” Brett Ryan, senior U.S. economist for Deutsche Bank, wrote in a note, per Yahoo.
Unemployment claims are still higher than the pre-pandemic peak of 695,000 and are higher than in any previous recession for records tracing back to 1967, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
COVID-19 “hasn’t let up, and it’s still creating massive amounts of economic havoc,” AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at jobs website Indeed, told the WSJ.
New claims during the pandemic dropped below 1 million in late August, after hitting at a record of almost 7 million in March.