US initial jobless claims rise to 207,000

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Initial jobless claims in the United States last week rose to 207,000 amid COVID-19 Omicron variant surge, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday.

In the week ending Jan. 1, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased by 7,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised level of 200,000, according to a report released by the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The four-week moving average, a method to iron out data volatility, increased by 4,750 to 204,500, according to the report.

The latest jobless claims report also showed that the number of people continuing to collect regular state unemployment benefits in the week ending Dec. 25 increased by 36,000 to 1.75 million. That number peaked in April and May in 2020, when it was over 20 million.

Payroll data company Automatic Data Processing (ADP) reported Wednesday that private companies in the United States added 807,000 jobs in December, indicating continued recovery in the labor market.

"December's job market strengthened as the fallout from the Delta variant faded and Omicron's impact had yet to be seen," said Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP.

The BLS is set to release the crucial monthly employment report on Friday, which will include employment data from both the private sector and the government.

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