WASHINGTON — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits declined for the third straight week.
Jobless claims fell by 16,000 to 223,000 last week, from 239,000 the previous week, the Labor Department reported today.
The four-week average for claims, which compensates for weekly volatility, was essentially flat after rising for five straight weeks as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spread.
Last week, the Labor Department reported a surprising burst of hiring in January, with employers adding 467,000 jobs. It also revised upward its estimate for job gains in November and December by a combined 709,000. The unemployment rate edged up to a still-low 4% from 3.9%, as more people began looking for work, but not all of them securing jobs right away.