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Initial Claims for Unemployment Drop by 18,000

unemployed person moving out of office

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped to 202,000 during the week ended Saturday (Dec. 30).

That total was 18,000 less than the previous week’s revised level of 220,000, the Department of Labor (DOL) said in a Thursday (Jan. 4) press release.

The four-week moving average was 207,750, down 4,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 212,500, according to the release.

The number of initial claims was lower than the 216,000 that had been expected by economists polled by Reuters.This data tends to be volatile around the holidays, the media outlet reported.

The lower number suggests that the labor market remains fairly tight, though it has been cooling after nearly two years of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, according to the report.

The release of data on initial claims comes a day after the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) posted figures showing that the number of job openings in the United States was little changed in November, while the number of hires and total job separations decreased.

The total of 8.8 million job openings available on the last business day of November was down from a series high of 12.0 million in March 2022, the BLS said in a Wednesday (Jan. 3) press release.

The November figure was also the lowest since March 2021, showing a gradual cooling of the labor market that could contribute to the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates this year, Reuters reported Wednesday.

It has been reported that much of the outlook for the economy depends on the job market, which has been cooling in recent months.

The states with the largest increases in initial claims during the week ended Dec. 23 were California, New Jersey and Missouri, according to Thursday’s DOL press release. Those with the largest decreases were Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

In comments supplied to the DOL, Missouri attributed its increase to layoffs in the automobile industry.

The DOL also reported Thursday that the insured unemployment rate was 1.2% for the week ended Dec. 23. That was 0.1 percentage point lower than the previous week’s unadjusted rate, according to the release.

The insured unemployment number for the week ended Dec. 23 was 1,855,000, which was 31,000 fewer than the previous week’s revised level of 1,886,000, the release said.