Boca Raton, FL – NCCI recently released its Quarterly Economics Briefing report for the fourth quarter of 2021, noting that a strong January jobs report shows US employment approaching pre-COVID levels despite the Omicron wave.
Most sectors are now near or even above pre-pandemic employment levels, and low national unemployment rates in December and January point to an economy approaching full employment.
In this issue, focus shifts from post-COVID economic recovery to the emerging new economic normal, with the Great Reshuffle in labor markets as a key theme for 2022.
Key insights and themes discussed include:
The Economic Outlook For 2022
Unemployment rates at or below 4% in December and January indicate that the US economy is nearing full employment. This is despite the fact that the national job total for January is still 2 million below the comparable pre-pandemic level. Job losses are now concentrated in just two major sectors: Leisure and Hospitality, and Education and Health Services. Looking ahead for 2022, it is time to take seriously that the recovery phase of the COVID recession may be largely over and the current situation is the new normal for the US economy and labor markets.
Omicron’s Indiscernible Impact
January’s employment numbers showed no effects of the Omicron surge, and falling unemployment claims through the end of the month suggest that a deferred jobs hit in February is unlikely. This suggests US economic activity has become progressively less sensitive to fluctuations in infection rates from successive waves of the coronavirus since the pandemic began two years ago—a phenomenon NCCI has referred to as delinking.
The Great Reshuffle
Job quits nationally are higher in sectors of the economy that lost the most jobs during 2020 and where job recovery and wage growth have been strongest in 2021. The report notes the Great Reshuffle has implications for workers compensation. For instance, shortened average job tenure due to workers moving into new jobs, occupations and industries tends to increase injury frequency and may also affect injury severity.
Read the full report: NCCI: Q4 2021 Quarterly Economics Briefing
NCCI is also hosting a free webinar on key economic questions for 2022 – register here
You can also view a brief video that discusses the report’s highlights: