The level of weekly jobless claims, reported Thursday by the Department of Labor, indicates that layoffs are extremely rare as employers try to hold on to workers.
Weekly claims began declining after new cases of COVID-19 peaked in mid-January and have hovered at low levels since mid-February.
“With job openings still elevated and layoffs at a record low, we expect initial claims to remain near current levels even as demand for workers starts to ease,” said economists with Oxford Economics.
Despite the country’s punishing inflation and the Federal Reserve hiking interest rates for the first time in years, the labor market has been tight and job growth has been hot, although that is expected to cool as interest rates rise.
Around this time in May of 2021, new claims were averaging over 400,000 per week.
The lowest number of recent jobless claims was the 166,000 tallied in mid-March. That represents the fewest number of new weekly claims since 1968.
Inflation has been the defining economic problem of this year. Consumer prices increased by a blistering 8.3% in the 12 months ending in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is a slight downward turn from the 8.5% tallied in March but still far above the Fed’s 2% target.
Additionally, the number of job openings in April was at 11.4 million, which is also near record levels, the BLS reported on Wednesday. The previous record number of job openings was notched in March, which was upwardly revised this week to 11.9 million.