Jobless Claims Decline for First Time in Four Weeks

A worker welds a lawnmower frame at a factory in Coatesville, Ind. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)

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Applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance fell for the first time in four weeks, partially unwinding a recent spike in claims due to the omicron variant.

Initial unemployment claims totaled 260,000 in the week ended Jan. 22, down 30,000 from the prior period, Labor Department data showed Jan. 27. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 265,000 applications.

Applications declined after a surge in recent weeks amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases across the country. Claims have largely been falling in the past year as companies are desperate to retain and attract talent amid ongoing labor shortages.

Continuing claims for state benefits advanced to 1.68 million in the week ended Jan. 15.

On an unadjusted basis, claims retreated to 267,573 last week. All except two states registered declines in unadjusted claims, with Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey posting the biggest decreases.

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