This is more evidence that the American job market continues to be strong in the wake of last year's coronavirus crisis.
According to the Labor Department, jobless claims fell by 8,000 to 198,000 on Thursday. The Labor Department reported that the four-week average, which smooths week-to-week volatility out, was just above 199,000, its lowest level since October 1969.
These numbers indicate that Omicron's fast-growing variant has not yet triggered a wave of layoffs.
In total, 1.7 million Americans received traditional unemployment assistance in the week ending December 18. This was the lowest level since March 2020, right as the pandemic was threatening to devastate the US economy. It was also down 140,000 over the previous week.
After last year's severe coronavirus recession, the job market has rebounded. COVID was a devastating virus that caused governments to order lockdowns. Consumers hunkered down at their homes and businesses cut back or closed. In March 2020 and April 2020, employers cut more than 22,000,000 jobs and the unemployment rate soared to 14.8 percent.
However, the economy was reborn after massive government spending and the eventual rollout of vaccines. Employers have created 18.5 million new jobs since April 2020. This leaves the US with 3.9 million fewer jobs than it had before the pandemic. Next week's December jobs report is expected to reveal that 374,000 additional jobs were created in December.
The unemployment rate is now at 4.2 percent. This is close to full employment, according to economists.
Joshua Shapiro (chief US economist at Maria Fiorini Ramirez Inc.) stated that "the overall picture painted by those data points to a rapid rate of job growth." If businesses had been able hire as many workers and gotten the best hiring rates, then hiring would have been stronger.