Jan 5, 2023 - Economy

Lots of layoffs, few jobless claims

Illustration collage of a box packed with office desk items in front of one hundred dollar bills

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Two headlines over the last 24 hours sum up the labor market in a nutshell.

Driving the news: Amazon announced Wednesday it will lay off more than 18,000 workers, the latest in a string of such announcements from major employers.

  • Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported this morning that only 204,000 people filed new jobless claims, the lowest since September. The number of continuing unemployment claims fell by 24,000.

The intrigue: Even as layoffs have become more widespread in the tech and media sectors, most big-picture indicators of the job market remain strikingly robust.

  • So far, it appears, the people losing their jobs are finding new ones quickly.
  • Or, to the degree the job losses are taking place among high-income tech workers with good severance packages, those who lose their jobs may not bother to file claims at all.

By the numbers: The latest data from ADP, the payroll processing company, gives some clues as to what's going on.

  • ADP reported this morning that large companies cut 151,000 jobs on net in December — but hiring by small and midsize companies was so robust that there was an overall gain of 235,000 jobs.
  • "The labor market is strong but fragmented, with hiring varying sharply by industry and establishment size,” said Nela Richardson, ADP's chief economist, in a statement.

What's next: Forecasters expect the December jobs numbers due out Friday morning to show 200,o00 jobs added last month, a continued deceleration, and the unemployment rate unchanged at 3.7%.

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