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Manufacturing Employment, Demand Are Up

Unemployment-benefit filings declined last week, showing a tight labor market with many job openings despite the many disruptions caused by the COVID-19 omicron variant, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription) and the U.S. Department of Labor.

What’s going on: There were 260,000 initial unemployment claims for the week ending Jan. 22, a reduction from 290,000 for the week ending Jan. 15, which was a 13-week high.

  • There were approximately 1.67 million continuing claims for the week ending Jan. 15, increasing for the second consecutive week, up from 1.62 million for the week ending Jan. 8.
  • Those on jobless rolls declined to the lowest level since 1973.

Extra efforts: Employers are going the extra mile to keep staff owing to the tight labor market and COVID-19-related absenteeism.

  • A steep rise in claims seen in early January was probably due to workers filing for unemployment benefits because they got sick, Goldman Sachs’ Global Investment Research Chief U.S. Economist David Mericle told the Journal.

Slowed but not stopped: “[University of Minnesota economist Aaron] Sojourner said that the omicron variant has likely slowed the labor market’s recovery, but he expects it to quickly resume once the current surge of COVID-19 cases passes.”

The NAM says: “The labor market has improved mightily over the course of the last year, with initial and continuing unemployment insurance claims reflecting that progress,” said NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray.

  • “For their part, manufacturers hired more workers in 2021 than in any year since 1994, and business leaders continue to tell us about their challenges in finding and retaining employees. As such, even with a number of significant headwinds, manufacturing demand and employment remain bright spots in the economy.”
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