business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports that "filings for U.S. unemployment benefits rose only modestly last week and held near prepandemic levels, suggesting the labor market remains historically tight.

"Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, increased by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 225,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. Average weekly claims this year through mid-December were slightly lower than the 2019 average of 218,000, when the labor market also was historically strong.

"Claims are up from lows this spring but remain at levels that suggest many employers are still holding on to their workers."

At the same time, the Journal writes, "Job openings held nearly steady at historically high levels in November, adding to evidence that the labor market remained strong heading into 2023 despite rising interest rates and concerns about an economic slowdown. 

"About 10.5 million jobs were available in November, essentially unchanged from October and well above prepandemic openings levels, the Labor Department said Wednesday. The report also showed layoffs stayed low and a larger share of workers quit their jobs in November than a month earlier, a sign Americans were still confident in their employment prospects."

KC's View:

All of which adds up to an economy that at the very least can be characterized as complicated.  Sure, there is inflation.  Yes, there is a recessionary mindset and real concern about a recession later this year.

But not all the indicators are negative, which makes it harder for regulators to figure out how to impact one set of trend lines without hurting other sectors.