U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Hold Steady Near 50-Year Low

First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits came in flat in the week ended December 18th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims were unchanged from the previous week’s revised level of 205,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 205,000 from the 206,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Jobless claims held steady after the previous week saw claims edge up off the more than 50-year low of 188,000 set in the week ended December 4th.

Meanwhile, the report showed the less volatile four-week moving average crept up to 206,250, an increase of 2,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 203,500.

The modest increase came after the four-week moving average fell to its lowest level since November of 1969 in the previous week.

“The claims data may be more volatile in the upcoming weeks due to the seasonal adjustment process around the holidays,” said Kathy Bostjancic, Chief US Financial Economist at Oxford Economics.

“Looking past that noise, however, we expect claims to remain around 200k as layoffs remain low amid tight labor market conditions,” she added. “The spread of the Omicron variant may lend an upside risk to that forecast, but for now, it appears as though businesses are striving to remain open.”

Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, edged down by 8,000 to 1.859 million in the week ended December 11th, hitting the lowest level since March of 2020.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims also slid to a pandemic-era low of 1,919,750, a decrease of 49,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,968,750.

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