🖤 Donations of all sizes power our public service journalism Give Now

New unemployment claims creep up as hiring slows

Meghan McCarty Carino Nov 16, 2023
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Slowed hiring could be an indicator that the jobs market is mellowing out after wild swings during the first few years of the pandemic. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

New unemployment claims creep up as hiring slows

Meghan McCarty Carino Nov 16, 2023
Heard on:
Slowed hiring could be an indicator that the jobs market is mellowing out after wild swings during the first few years of the pandemic. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Checking in on the labor market this week, it continues to show signs of slowing down. Of course, unemployment is still low historically, at 3.9% per the October jobs report. But that’s up half a percent since just April.

Plus, last week saw another jump in applications for unemployment benefits. Those first time claims hit 231,000 — the highest since August. And the number of people continuing to file for unemployment was the highest it’s been in almost two years.

In fact, it feels like every week for the past six months or so the story about the jobs market has sounded something like this:

“We are seeing a little bit of a softening in labor market conditions, not by a huge amount,” said Layla O’Kane, a senior economist at Lightcast. She said all those little bits of data are starting to firm up.

“I think that the softening that has felt tentative for so long, feels very real,” she said.

And it probably feels especially real if you’re one of the now nearly 1.9 million workers on unemployment, said Aaron Terrazas, chief economist at job site Glassdoor.

“We certainly see the changing dynamic between employers and workers, you know, the job market today is a far cry from where it was, say in summer 2022,” he said.

Back then workers were often getting multiple offers and commanding big bonuses. Today, Terrazas said the numbers show hiring has slowed.

“There are real industries and parts of the country where workers are starting to feel the pressure of a weakening economy,” he said.

Like in tech or housing. Surveys from the Conference Board show a drop over the last year in the share of American consumers who say “jobs are plentiful” according to the group’s senior economist Selcuk Eren.

“That means people who are searching for jobs are having a little bit harder time,” he said.

While the economy is still adding jobs, he said the gains have been concentrated in sectors like healthcare and hospitality.

“And if you are not in those industries, you are having more difficulty,” he said.

A gently-but-persistently moderating labor market is pretty much what the Federal Reserve hopes to see after the wild swings of the last few years, according to Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst with Bankrate.

“Let’s call it the normalization of the economy still recovering from the slings and arrows of the pandemic,” he said.

There’s still a lot of economic uncertainty between global conflicts and an impending election, Hamrick said. But so far so good.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.