Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Jump as Omicron Surge Takes Toll

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden put on a mask after he spoke on November job numbers at the Queen theater December 4, 2020 Wilmington, Delaware. U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November and pushed the unemployment rate to 6.7% from 6.9% in October. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Jobless claims unexepectedly jumped last week, suggesting that omicron has begun hitting the labor market.

Initial filings for the week ended January 15 totaled 286,000, up from the previous week’s 231,000. Analysts surveyed by Econoday forecast claims would fall to 207,000.

The total was the highest since mid-October. Jobless claims have been on an uneven climb since falling to the lowest level in 50 years in early January.

Continuing claims, which are released with a week’s delay, climbed 84,000 to 1.64 million.

Real time indicators of travel and leisure activity, including airport foot traffic and restaurant bookings, have recently indicated declines as new case numbers have surged.

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