WASHINGTON - First-time claims for U.S. unemployment compensation remained at a low level last week as employers retained their workers and searched for more as the United States continues its economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Labor Department said Thursday that 222,000 jobless workers made first-time claims for unemployment compensation, up 28,000 from the revised figure of 194,000 the week before, which was a 52-year low.
Even with the increase in claims last week, the figures from both of the last two weeks were well below the 256,000 total in mid-March 2020 when the pandemic first swept into the country and employers started laying off workers by the hundreds of thousands.
The declining number of claims for unemployment benefits shows that many employers are hanging on to their workers even as millions have quit jobs to move to other companies offering higher pay and more benefits.
Many employers are looking for more workers, even as about 7.4 million workers remain unemployed in the United States.
There are 10.4 million available jobs in the country, but the skills of available workers often do not match what employers want, or the job openings are not where the unemployed live. In addition, many of the available jobs are low-wage service positions that the jobless are shunning.
U.S. employers added 531,000 jobs in October, the biggest monthly gain in three months and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6%. But the U.S. economy is still short more than four million jobs since February 2020. The November jobs figure is set for release on Friday.
The U.S. economic advance is occurring even as President Joe Biden and Washington policy makers, along with consumers, voice concerns about the biggest increase in consumer prices in three decades and supply chain issues that have curtailed delivery of some products to retail store shelves.