116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week but remained at historically low levels, suggesting that the job market remains strong.
U.S. jobless claims rose by 7,000 the week ending Jan. 1, to 207,000. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week gyrations, rose by nearly 4,800 to just below 205,000.
Despite the increases, the numbers show weekly claims are below the 220,000 typical before the pandemic struck the national economy in March 2020.
The highly transmissible omicron variant so far does not appear to have triggered significant layoffs.
Altogether, nearly 1.8 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment aid the week that ended Dec. 25.
“Assuming any layoffs related to Omicron are limited amid tight labor market conditions, we expect initial claims to continue to hover around the (200,000) mark,'' said Nancy Vanden Houten, lead economist at Oxford Economics.
Iowa numbers up, too
Iowa saw jumps in both continuing and first-time applications for unemployment benefits for the week.
Continuing claims climbed from 15,253 to 19,532 for that one week. Initial claims soared from 3,583 to 5,075.
Linn County recorded 237 initial claims — a rise from the previous week’s 191. It reported 1,293 continuing claims, with 1,174 for the previous week.
Johnson County had 122 claims, an increase from 88 for the previous week. It saw 520 continuing applications, with 427 for the week before.
The United States overall posted 10.6 million job openings in November, the fifth highest monthly total in records going back to 2000.
A record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November — a sign that they are confident enough in their prospects to seek something better.
The unemployment rate has fallen to 4.2 percent, close to what economists consider full employment.
The Gazette added Iowa Workforce Development numbers to this article.