The number of Americans filing new jobless claims fell more than expected last week, as COVID -19 infections declined , suggesting an anticipated slowdown in job growth in January it was probably temporary.
Initial claims for state jobless benefits fell 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted total of 238,000 in the week ended Jan. 29, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had expected 245,000.
Orders increased from the beginning of January to the middle of the month, amid a spate of coronavirus infections fueled by the omicron variant. Business activity, especially in the services sector, was affected by the latest wave.
ADP ‘s national employment report showed on Wednesday that private payrolls declined in January for the first time in a year, raising the possibility that the broader economy lost jobs last month.
According to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, released in mid-January, 8.8 million people reported not working for coronavirus-related reasons between December 29 and January 10.
People who are sick or quarantined and are not paid during the payroll survey period are counted as unemployed in the Labor Department’s survey of businesses, even if they continue to be employed by their companies.
The government is likely to report on Friday that nonfarm payrolls increased by 150,000 jobs last month, after growing by 199,000 in December, according to a Reuters survey of economists.
Estimates range from a decline of 400,000 to an increase of 385,000. The unemployment rate is forecast to remain unchanged at 3.9%, underscoring tightening labor market conditions.