Jan 26, 2023 - Economy

New unemployment claims number shows job market resilience

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of Americans filing unemployment claims remains extraordinarily low and signals the opposite of a recessionary jobs market.

Driving the news: The Labor Department said this morning that only 186,000 people filed new claims for jobless benefits last week, the lowest since April of last year.

  • Continuing claims, however, ticked up by 20,000 to 1.675 million, which could be a sign that some people are taking longer to find new jobs.

Between the lines: Ultra-low claims numbers don't seem to jibe with grim headlines about tech layoffs. But in recent days, labor market anecdata has showed a somewhat brighter picture.

  • Sure, some high-profile companies have announced layoffs lately, including Microsoft (10,000 jobs), Alphabet (12,000), and Goldman Sachs (3,200).
  • But this week also brought news that Walmart, the largest private employer in the U.S., raised its minimum wage for hourly employees by two dollars to $14, and said it will increase average hourly pay for store employees to $17.50.
  • And this morning, Chipotle said it will hire 15,000 workers for its burrito restaurants in the coming months.

The bottom line: If you just focus on the most prominent companies, you're missing the overall story of strength in the labor market.

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