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Applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance fell for a second week, partially unwinding a recent spike in claims as the omicron wave recedes.
Initial unemployment claims decreased by 23,000 to 238,000 in the week ended Jan. 29, Labor Department data showed Feb. 3. The median estimate called for 245,000 applications in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
Continuing claims for state benefits fell to 1.63 million in the week ended Jan. 22.
Applications continued to decline 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, and layoffs are at a record low as companies are desperate to retain and attract talent amid ongoing labor shortages.
The claims data comes ahead of the government’s monthly employment report, which is forecast to show the U.S. added 150,000 jobs in January. A separate report Feb. 2 showed that payrolls at U.S. companies fell by 301,000 last month, the most since April 2020, according to ADP Research Institute.
On an unadjusted basis, claims decreased to 257,002 last week. Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois were states registering the biggest decreases in unadjusted claims. Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana posted the largest increases in applications.
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