US weekly jobless claims unexpectedly rise as Covid-19 cases soar

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WASHINGTON: The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose in the first week of January amid raging Covid-19 infections, but remained at a level consistent with rapidly tightening labor market conditions.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 230,000 for the week ended Jan. 8, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 200,000 applications for the latest week.
Claims remain below their pre-pandemic level, a sign of strengthening labor market conditions. They have declined from a record high of 6.149 million in early April 2020.
Applications for jobless benefits remain very low despite a surge in coronavirus cases, driven by the Omicron variant, which has disrupted activity from airlines to schools as workers call in sick. Employers are hanging on to their…

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