The job market looks strong in the dying days of 2021. On Thursday morning, we learned that weekly jobless claims were still hovering at their lowest level since 1969.
But can this be sustained into the New Year with the inclusion of the omicron coronavirus variant?
Business news is often repetitive by nature. And today’s unemployment figures are similar to those released last week and the week before, but that’s good news.
âI think the clear picture here is that omicron hasn’t caused massive layoffs – at least not yet,â said AnnElizabeth Konkel, economist at Indeed.
A few caveats: Data for the last week of the year can be murky. Companies are probably less likely to lay off during the holidays.
Also, âif you were fired you might have just said, ‘You know what? I’m going to deal with it in January, especially because there have been so many stories over the last few months, like 21 months of pandemic, about the unemployment system being clogged, âKonkel said.
So states could signal an influx of nominations by, say, mid-January.
Gary Burtless, labor economist at the Brookings Institution, agrees these are good numbers. But he also believes that omicron will affect data in the future. Yes, a lot of people have mild symptoms, but it still disrupts the workplace.
âThink of a restaurant with seven or eight employees, three of whom are sick. This could cause some employers to shut down, at least temporarily, âBurtless said.
Businesses face a lot of uncertainties because we are still in this place where it is not clear whether you will get sick or how sick you will be if you are infected with COVID. It depends on who you are and, in part, if you are vaccinated and received the booster.