Unemployment Claims Stay Low Despite Omicron

Number of the Day: The most relevant or interesting figure in personal finance


That’s how many weeks the number of new unemployment claims has stayed below pre-pandemic levels, the government said, suggesting the latest surge of COVID-19 hasn’t caused a wave of layoffs.  

The number of seasonally adjusted initial unemployment insurance claims fell to 198,000 the week ending Dec. 25, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. That was a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week, and the fourth report in a row that claims stayed below the 212,000 logged the week ending March 7, 2020, just before the pandemic emergency began.

When the number of new jobless claims plunged in November to the lowest levels since 1969, economists took the news with a grain of salt. After all, they knew figures can be fluky around the holidays due to the way the department adjusts the numbers to account for seasonal patterns. But claims have stayed low for several straight weeks now, adding to evidence that it’s workers, not jobs, that are in short supply, even amid a winter spike in COVID-19 cases brought about by the virus’ omicron variant. Indeed, the four-week average of claims was at its lowest since 1969.

“As 2021 winds down, there appears to be no loss in momentum in the labor market,” John Ryding, chief economic advisor at Brean Capital, said in a commentary. The data “points to companies being increasingly reluctant to part with workers,” he added.

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Diccon at dhyatt@thebalance.com.

Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Department of Labor. “Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims, Seasonally Adjusted Data.”

  2. Federal Reserve Economic Data. “Initial Claims.” 

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Trends in Number of COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in the US Reported to CDC, by State/Territory.”

Related Articles