The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased last week but remained at historically low levels, indicating that the labor market remains strong.
US jobless claims rose by 7,000 last week to 207,000. The four-week average of claims, which facilitates week-to-week fluctuations, rose about 4,800 to just under 205,000. Despite the increases, the numbers show weekly claims are below the usual 220,000 Before the pandemic hit the US economy in March 2020.
The highly transmissible omicron variant does not yet appear to have caused a significant number of layoffs.
In all, nearly 1.8 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment assistance in the week that ended December 25.
“Assuming any omicron-related layoffs are limited amid tight labor market conditions, we expect initial claims to continue to swing around the 200,000 mark,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, chief economist at Oxford Economics.
Mortgage rates on the rise in the United States
Average long-term mortgage rates in the US rose last week to kick off the new year. It reached its highest level since May 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but has remained historically low.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average 30-year home loan interest rate rose to 3.22% this week from 3.11% last week. A year ago, the 30-year average was 2.65%.
The average interest rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, which is popular with those refinancing their homes, rose to 2.43% from 2.33% last week.
Many economists expect mortgage rates to rise this year after the Federal Reserve announced last month that it would start tapering off its monthly bond purchases to curb inflation. But even with the three rate hikes expected in 2022, the Fed’s benchmark interest rate will still be below 1%.