New filings for jobless claims rose on a seasonally adjusted basis to 222,000 for the week ending Nov. 27, beating expectations and continuing the overall improvement of the labor market, according to government data released Thursday.
After a sharp drop in the week before Thanksgiving, the new jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—were only slightly above the 2019 average of 218,000, before the pandemic.
The previous week’s figure was revised down to 194,000—a pandemic low—mostly because of seasonal variations around Thanksgiving week.
Our preferred measure—the 13-week moving average—also dropped, to 291,000 from 301,000, marking the 39th straight week of declines since February.
The significant decline in November points to an improved payroll report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics coming out on Friday.
After a turbulent September because of the impact from the delta variant’s surge and Hurricane Ida, the 13-week moving average has declined at a much faster rate as those headwinds have subsided.
We expect new claims to decline further in the last several weeks of the year as the tightness of the labor market persists. The new omicron variant of the coronavirus, though, is a major risk.
The total number of claims for all programs for the week ending Nov. 13 was 2.3 million, up by 21,564 from the prior week and down from 20.8 million a year ago.
The number of claims for regular state programs led the increase, while claims for pandemic-related programs declined for the same week.
On the state level, largest increases in new claims for the week ending Nov. 20 were in Virginia (up by 12,703) and New Jersey (up by 2,061), while the biggest drops were in California (down by 7,233) and Kentucky (down by 3,910).
Though the emergence of the omicron variant has become a significant wildcard in the economy, we expect filings to remain low in the coming weeks as businesses scramble to find workers and retain those that they have to meet surging demand.