Ohio Unemployment

Ohio Initial Jobless Claims Rise over Christmas Week

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Initial jobless claims in the state for the week ended Dec. 25 jumped to the highest level since early November.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported 11,955 initial jobless claims last week, which is up from the 9,337 reported the week prior. It’s the most claims reported in the last eight weeks since the department reported 11,232 claims the week ended Nov. 6.

Continued jobless claims remained somewhat steady at 42,654, up from 42,310 reported the week ended Dec. 18. Ohio reported 54,609 total claims for the week ended Dec. 25.

Ohio’s unemployment rate in November was 4.8% compared to the national rate of 4.2%. Ohio’s labor force participation rate in November was 61.3%, which is lower than the national rate of 61.8%.

Pennsylvania reported 8,599 initial jobless claims for the week ended Dec. 18, the most recent data available from the Center for Workforce Information & Analysis. That’s down from the 13,261 claims reported the week prior. Continued claims were also down in the commonwealth to 84,168 from 88,774 the week ended Dec. 11.

Nationally, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell below 200,000, more evidence that the job market remains strong in the aftermath of last year’s coronavirus recession.

Jobless claims dropped by 8,000 to 198,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, fell to just above 199,000, lowest level since October 1969.

The numbers suggest that the fast-spreading omicron variant has yet to trigger a wave of layoffs.

Altogether, 1.7 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment aid the week that ended Dec. 18, lowest since March 2020 and down by 140,000 from the week before.

The weekly claims numbers, a proxy for layoffs, have fallen steadily most of the year. Employers are reluctant to let workers go at a time when it’s so tough to find replacements. The United States had a near-record 11 million job openings in October, and 4.2 million Americans quit their jobs — just off September’s record 4.4 million — because there are so many opportunities.

The job market has bounced back from last year’s brief but intense coronavirus recession. When COVID hit, governments ordered lockdowns, consumers hunkered down at home and many businesses closed or cut back hours. Employers slashed more than 22 million jobs in March and April 2020, and the unemployment rate rocketed to 14.8%.

But massive government spending — and eventually the rollout of vaccines — brought the economy back. Employers have added 18.5 million jobs since April 2020, still leaving the U.S. still 3.9 million jobs short of what it had before the pandemic. The December jobs report, out next week, is expected to show that the economy generated another 374,000 jobs this month.

The unemployment rate has fallen to 4.2%, close to what economists consider full employment.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.