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Applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance fell for a third week as COVID-19 cases continue to drop, solidifying the labor market’s strength after an omicron-induced spike in claims.
Initial unemployment claims decreased by 16,000 to 223,000 in the week ended Feb. 5, Labor Department data showed Feb. 10. The median estimate called for 230,000 applications in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
Continuing claims for state benefits were unchanged at 1.62 million in the week ended Jan. 29.
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Claims have fallen for the past few weeks as the labor market gets back on track from the spread of the omicron variant, which led to a surge in unemployment applications over the new year. More broadly, claims are trending toward pre-pandemic levels as companies struggle to retain and attract talent amid ongoing labor shortages, keeping layoffs at a record low.
On an unadjusted basis, initial claims decreased to 228,909 last week.
Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois registered the biggest decreases in unadjusted claims. Michigan had the largest increase.