The labor market in 2022 started out where it left off in 2021, as new claims increased slightly, by 7,000, to 207,000. The 4 week average of new claims increased 4.750 to 204,500:
Readings this low haven’t been seen in half a century.
Continuing claims for jobless benefits also rose slightly, by 36,000, to 1,754,000:
Except for 2018-19, we haven’t seen continuing claims this low since 1974:
We can expect this situation to continue so long as the pandemic keeps many potential workers (on the order of 4,000,000 or so) on the sidelines. As I wrote yesterday concerning the JOLTS report, it’s like a game of reverse musical chairs where the holders of the chairs can’t get enough people to sit in them. In those circumstances, virtually nobody is going to get laid off. I don’t know if initial claims will go any lower, but I suspect continuing claims will continue to decline to or even below their 2018-19 levels.
In the meantime, I expect another good employment report tomorrow, and I will be really surprised if last month’s initial estimate of a gain of 210,000 jobs in November isn’t raised substantially higher.