economy

US unemployment claims fall in tight job market

US unemployment claims fall in tight job market

Jobless claims hovered above pre-pandemic levels last week as employers avoid layoffs and many workers quit or remain sidelined in a tight labor market. Initial claims for jobless benefits edged down to seasonally adjusted 268,000 last week from a revised 269,000 a week earlier, the Labor Department said Thursday. Claims are at the lowest level since the pandemic hit the U.S. economy last spring and are gradually drifting down toward pre-pandemic levels. Though worker filings for unemployment benefits remain above their 2019 weekly average of 218,000, the recovery in claims has been much faster than after the 2007-2009 recession. Claims took about 1.5 years to fall below 300,000 after the economy began to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. By comparison, they took roughly five years to cross that threshold after the recession ended in mid-2009. The relatively rapid decline in claims is evidence employer demand for workers is unusually strong, economists say. Job openings are near record highs, but many businesses say they can’t find enough workers to fill the roles. High worker turnover is one challenge for employers. Though many companies are trying to expand their workforces, they are simultaneously losing workers, said Evan Sohn, chief executive at Recruiter.com, a hiring and recruiting platform. The quits rate—a measurement of workers leaving jobs as a share of overall employment—was 3% in September, a record high, Labor Department figures tracing back to 2000 show. Workers are feeling emboldened to leave their jobs because they are more valuable in today’s labor market, there is less stigma about leaving a company than in the past and remote technology allows for a quicker, easier interview process, Mr. Sohn said. “This job-hopper economy is not going backward, he said. “We’re not going to go back to seeing people at a company for 25 years again. Recruiters reported that about 53% of the roles they were filling in October were backfill roles—or openings because of worker departures—up from 44% in August, according to Recruiter.com. Recruitment for backfill positions exceeded recruitment for new jobs last month, one piece of evidence that employers are struggling with employee resignations. Labor shortages also reflect a smaller available pool of workers amid school and child-care disruptions, as well as some workers’ continued fear of the coronavirus. The labor force, or number of Americans working or seeking work, was down by nearly three million in October of this year from February 2020. Even among those who are seeking work, several factors continue to keep some people from searching more urgently. Care responsibilities, Covid-19 fears and employed partners were the top reasons unemployed people didn’t search harder for a job in October, according to jobs website Indeed.com. Employers are raising wages and offering benefits such as training and signing bonuses to attract workers. The employment-cost index, a measure of worker compensation that includes wages and benefits, rose 1.3% in the third quarter from the second, the fastest pace since at least 2001, the Labor Department reported. Download.

economy 2021-11-18 Livemint