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Continuing Unemployment Claims Creep Up As Layoffs Mount

unemployment claims

Jobless Americans might be having trouble finding work, according to new unemployment data.

Figures released Thursday (Nov. 2) by the Labor Department showed that continuing jobless claims — an indicator for the number of people collecting unemployment benefits — rose to 1.82 million for the week ending Oct. 21. It was the highest level in seven months and the sixth straight week of increases. 

“Overall, levels remain low, and businesses have yet to start shedding workers at a rapid pace given economic activity and demand remain strong,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, told Bloomberg News. “However, the continuing claims numbers bear watching for signs of a softening in labor demand.”

The news comes at a time when 20% of consumers who live paycheck to paycheck — a figure that makes up a bulk of the working population — blame job losses for their depleted savings.

“This trend is expected to persist and further erode consumers’ savings as job losses continue to rise across various sectors,” PYMNTS wrote recently. 

For example, last week saw U.K. banking giant Barclays announce that it is trimming its U.S. consumer banking division as it looks to slash costs, leading to a 3% reduction in staff. A number of America’s other banking giants — including JPMorganCiti and Wells Fargo — have also cut jobs, with about 20,000 positions at risk due to the impact of high interest rates. 

Tech layoffs, which last year almost doubled the figures seen in the industry during the pandemic, continue to persist. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is planning to shrink its staffing levels again after another workforce reduction initiative at the company, which has led to the loss of about 21,000 jobs since November 2022. 

Nokia also recently revealed plans to let go of up to 14,000 employees, after a nearly 70% reduction in quarter profits. In addition, major tech firms such Robinhood, Qualcomm and LinkedIn have announced similar job cuts. 

Against this backdrop, consumers are struggling to save, PYMNTS Intelligence found, despite efforts across all income brackets to manage their finances.

“On average, consumers deplete 67% of their available savings, with such depletions occurring, once every four years on average,” PYMNTS wrote recently. “For those living paycheck to paycheck, this recurrence is even more pronounced, occurring as frequently as once every 2.5 years.”