A U.K. court handed down an eight-month suspended prison sentence to Anne Sacoolas, an American woman who admitted to causing the death of 19-year-old Harry Dunn by careless driving in August 2019.
Sacoolas, wife of an American intelligence officer, was driving on the wrong side of the rode when her car collided with Dunn’s motorcycle outside the RAF Croughton air base in eastern England. She returned to the U.S. three weeks after the accident, and the U.S. government invoked diplomatic immunity for her. She ultimately pleaded guilty in October, but the Biden administration recommended that she not return to the U.K. for her sentencing hearing. Instead, she participated virtually.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about Harry,” Sacoolas said in a statement read by attorney Ben Cooper. She said she was “deeply sorry for the pain I have caused.”
The suspended sentence means that as long as she does not commit another offense in the next year, she will not face jail.
Despite characterizing Sacoolas’ actions as “not far short of deliberately dangerous driving,” Justice Bobbie Cheema-Grubb said she reduced the sentence – which could have been a maximum of five years in prison – due to Sacoolas pleading guilty and exhibiting good character prior to the crash. Cheema-Grubb also noted that the sentence cannot even be enforced while Sacoolas is in the U.S.
Dunn’s family also brought a civil suit against Sacoolas in Virginia federal court. In court documents, they claimed that Sacoolas may have been using her phone at the time of the crash, arguing that she might have tampered with her phone to hide data that would reveal this.
Her attorney, in that case, noted that Sacoolas “did not take any steps intended to remove data from her phone” but changed SIM cards when she returned to the U.S. because the old one was for the U.K.
The U.S. had refused to extradite Sacoolas, meaning she could have evaded authorities in the criminal case, but Cheema-Grubb said it was the “calm and dignified persistence” of Dunn’s parents that convinced her to go before the court and plead guilty. The parents spent three years talking to political figures in both countries in an effort to get Sacoolas to face accountability.
“As a family we are determined that his death will not have been in vain and we are involved in a number of projects to try to find some silver lining in this tragedy and to help others,” Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles said in a victim impact statement. “That will be Harry’s legacy.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The Federal Trade Commission is seeking to block technology giant Microsoft Corp. from acquiring leading video game developer Activision Blizzard, Inc. and its blockbuster gaming franchises such as Call of Duty, alleging that the $69 billion deal, Microsoft’s largest ever and the largest ever in the video gaming industry, would enable Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription content and cloud-gaming business.
In a complaint issued today, the FTC pointed to Microsoft’s record of acquiring and using valuable gaming content to suppress competition from rival consoles, including its acquisition of ZeniMax, parent company of Bethesda Softworks (a well-known game developer). Microsoft decided to make several of Bethesda’s titles including Starfield and Redfall Microsoft exclusives despite assurances it had given to European antitrust authorities that it had no incentive to withhold games from rival consoles.
“Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals,” said Holly Vedova, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.”
Microsoft’s Xbox Series S and Series X are one of only two types of high performance video game consoles. Importantly, Microsoft also offers a leading video game content subscription service called Xbox Game Pass, as well as a cutting-edge cloud-based video game streaming service, according to the complaint.
Activision is one of only a very small number of top video game developers in the world that create and publish high-quality video games for multiple devices, including video game consoles, PCs, and mobile devices. It produces some of the most iconic and popular video game titles, including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch, and has a combined 154 million monthly active users around the world, according to the FTC’s complaint. Activision currently has a strategy of offering its games on many devices regardless of producer.
But that could change if the deal is allowed to proceed. With control over Activision’s blockbuster franchises, Microsoft would have both the means and motive to harm competition by manipulating Activision’s pricing, degrading Activision’s game quality or player experience on rival consoles and gaming services, changing the terms and timing of access to Activision’s content, or withholding content from competitors entirely, resulting in harm to consumers.
The Commission vote to issue the complaint was 3-1, with Commissioner Christine S. Wilson voting no. A copy of the administrative complaint will be available shortly.
NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The issuance of the administrative complaint marks the beginning of a proceeding in which the allegations will be tried in a formal hearing before an administrative law judge.
American citizen Anne Sacoolas was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, at the Old Bailey in London for causing the death of British teenager Harry Dunn in a fatal traffic collision in August 2019, meaning she will not have to go to jail.
Sacoolas pleaded guilty in October to causing death by careless driving, punishable by up to five years in prison.
She admitted to driving on the wrong side of the road when she hit the 19-year-old motorcyclist outside a US military base in England, where her husband worked as a US diplomat.
Harry Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles, who has spent more than three years campaigning for justice for her son, told the court that the family was determined his death “will not be in vain.”
“I made a promise to Harry in the hospital that we will get justice, and a mother never breaks her promise to her son,” she said.
Speaking thought tears, Charles added: “There is an intense feeling of emptiness in the pit of my stomach without Harry around. His passing haunts me every minute of every day and I’m not sure how I will ever get over it.”
Sacoolas wiped away tears as Charles detailed the impact her son’s death had on the family.
“Harry’s twin Niall unfortunately continues to be hit very hard, and he remains a cause for concern,” Charles added. “I didn’t lose just one son when Harry died, I lost Niall too. He is a shell of himself. I’m petrified he’ll do something terrible one day and I’ll lose him too for good.”
The court on Thursday heard some of the harrowing details of the moments after the crash.
Outlining the case, prosecutor said Sacoolas drove 350 meters for 26 seconds on the wrong side of the road after turning from the airbase before colliding with Dunn, who was “thrown onto the front” of her car and over, while his motorcycle caught fire.
The prosecutor then described how the gravely injured Dunn told a first responder repeatedly “don’t let me die.”
Sacoolas was not present in person for the sentencing, despite High Court judge Mrs. Justice Cheema-Grubb appealing for Sacoolas to return to Britain to face sentencing in person. She appeared via a video link after the court gave her a permission to do so.
In the sentencing hearing on Thursday, Justice Cheema-Grubb said that she was told Sacoolas’s “US Government employer” said her appearance at court in the UK would place “significant US interest at risk” and that, according to the documents, Sacoolas was “not at liberty to disclose further information.”
Speaking in front of the court after the hearing, Charles said she thought it was “despicable” that Sacoolas didn’t attend the hearing in person.
Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity claimed on her behalf and was able to leave the United Kingdom weeks after the accident. Britain’s attempt to extradite Sacoolas to face charges of causing death by dangerous driving was declined by US authorities, and the incident has sparked some tension between the two countries.
After the sentencing, Charles said she found the way the US government handled the case “disgusting.”
Addressing Sacoolas on Thursday, the judge said that it was only because of the “dignified persistence” of Dunn’s parents and family that “has led, through three years of heartbreak and effort, to your appearance before the court and the opportunity for you to acknowledge your guilt of a crime.”
Sacoolas’ lawyer, Ben Cooper, told the court that “she did not ask for diplomatic immunity” and that she didn’t play “any part” in the extradition process. The decision to deny extradition was taken by the US government, according to Cooper.
He read a statement on Sacoolas’ behalf, saying she was “deeply sorry for the pain I have caused” and that “not a day goes by” where Harry Dunn isn’t on her mind.
Cooper added that Sacoolas’ family was forced to relocate following Harry Dunn’s death after she received death threats via email and telephone.
Charles said she was satisfied to have fulfilled the promise she made to her son. “Anne Sacoolas has a criminal record for the rest of her life. That was something she never thought she’d see, something the US government never thought they’d see,” she told reporters, adding that she and the family were not invested in the sentence the judge was going to hand down. “For us it was all about doing the right thing, getting through the UK justice system.”
Looking up to the sky, she said: “Harry we done it. We’re good. We’re good.”
Deion Sanders’ decision to leave Jackson State University, a historically Black university in Mississippi, to take over as head football coach at the predominantly white University of Colorado in Boulder has been the talk of the sports world.
Upon joining Jackson State (JSU) in 2020, Sanders, 55, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl winner, essentially became a champion of HBCU football. He promoted the virtues of the schools, lured top recruits away from predominantly white institutions, sparked a surge of donations and sponsorships to the underfunded JSU, increased national exposure for HBCUs and put up his own money to renovate the school’s Walter Payton Center.
He declared that God led him to Jackson State to uplift HBCUs. With all of his aforementioned efforts, fans and HBCU advocates are upset that he is leaving the university after three seasons for a $5 million annual payday from Colorado.
“He sold a dream and then walked out on the dream. People have the right to be critical of that,” ESPN’s Bomani Jones told CNN. Sports fans on social media shared similar sentiments, with one person tweeting, “Deion was preaching elevating HBCU programs & looks like he was just using JSU as a launching pad for his coaching career, which is fine, but don’t go around acting like it was for altruistic reasons.”
Another added: “This guy literally made himself the face of HBCU sports, acted as its lead ambassador, shamed those who didn’t want to include him (be they questioned his motives) … only for him to flip so soon.”
The debate about Sanders leaving JSU has been centered on whether he should be considered a “sellout” for leaving an HBCU football program that he made successful for a struggling program at a better funded, predominantly white institute. Experts say the answer isn’t so simple.
Sanders has a 27-5 coaching record at Jackson State, including going 12-0 this year and winning two consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference titles. The Colorado Buffaloes haven’t had a winning season since 2006 and haven’t won a bowl game since 2004.
Sanders will owe Jackson State around $300,000 in a buyout for the 2020 contract, according to USA Today. And Colorado reportedly offered Sanders a starting salary of more than $5 million per year, plus incentives.
Although Sanders’ departure is a major loss for JSU, some have said that his joining a school in one of college football’s Power Five conferences marks the upward mobility that Black coaches have long fought for. Rob Parker, co-host of the Fox Sports radio show “The Odd Couple With Chris Broussard & Rob Parker,” said that while he understands the criticism, he believes Sanders is simply “evolving as a coach.”
“This is the circumstance of college football. This scenario has happened a million times. This is not a Deion Sanders thing,” Parker told NBC News. “Because he was able to move mountains, and make changes, and gave people a sense of pride for HBCUs, now they feel like he owes them for the rest of his life. And I don’t think that’s fair.”
HBCU Sports senior editor Kendrick Marshall, who was among the first to announce Colorado’s offer to Sanders last month, acknowledged that Sanders never said he’d stay at Jackson State for long. Sanders made clear in an October interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that he would “entertain” an offer from a Power Five school. This, Marshall said, doesn’t mean Sanders’ HBCU rhetoric was disingenuous.
“I do think he cared about the well-being of Jackson State football players. I do believe he cared about the well-being of the university as a whole. I do think, to some degree, that he really, truly cared about how Black colleges were perceived in the mainstream,” Marshall said, noting that he believes Sanders accomplished all he said he wanted to do at JSU, from winning games and donations to media exposure. And, in doing so, he made himself more appealing to other schools seeking head coaches. “It was a win-win for both parties,” Marshall added.
Some critics of Sanders’ departure have said the outrage isn’t so much about the NFL star going to a predominantly white institute, but that he is doing so after cementing himself as a staunch supporter of HBCUs. An air of racial solidarity and loyalty has underscored Sanders’ time at JSU. His decision to move on and break his four-year contract with JSU has even been described as “abandonment” by online critics. Sanders has also said he’s taking his son, Shedeur, JSU’s quarterback, to Colorado with him.
In an opinion piece, Deadspin sports writer Carron J. Phillips said the move only proves that Sanders never really cared about HBCUs at all, especially since his rhetoric has centered around a bold mission: to “change lives. Change the perspective of HBCU football,” he said in the “60 Minutes” interview.
J. Kenyatta Cavil, a professor specializing in HBCU sports at Texas Southern University, said focusing solely on the financial incentives and upward mobility of Sanders’ new job ignores the “social identity” of sports. As much as college football is a business and money-driver, there is a cultural significance to the programs that manifests itself in everything from lifelong loyalty to teams to students’ college choices.
“People are fighting two competing frameworks,” Cavil, co-editor of “The Athletic Experience at Historically Black Colleges and Universities — Past, Present, and Persistence,” said of Black sports fans. “Even though they understand the capitalistic truisms of this society, people will also tell you they wanted Sanders to believe in something that would keep him at JSU despite the money.”
Sanders also credited God for his latest career move when he told the team of his departure. He addressed claims that his decision was motivated solely by money, telling the players, “It’s not about a bag, but it is about an opportunity.” This posture may be helpful for Sanders as Colorado’s athletic director, Rick George, admitted Sunday that the university doesn’t have the money to pay Sanders — “but I know we’ll have it so I’m not worried about that piece,” he added, according to Sports Illustrated.
Experts like Cavil and Marshall agree that it’s unclear how JSU will fare both on the field and in terms of donations and media attention without Sanders’ advocacy and star power.
“Two major pieces of the championship team are going to be gone next year,” Marshall said, referring to Shedeur and Travis Hunter, a former five-star recruit and JSU cornerback who is rumored to have plans of following the father and son to Colorado. “As far as what happens on the football field, they won’t be as good as they were the past couple of years with Deion Sanders not around. I think the buzz around the program will change, especially if they don’t hire a coach that has a similar stature as Deion Sanders.”
Duke Energy in South Carolina is working closely with the FBI after gunfire was reported near a hydro station in Ridgeway, South Carolina. A Duke Energy spokesman said the gunfire was reported Wednesday night near the Wateree Hydro Station in Ridgeway.Ryan Mosier said no one was injured, no outages were reported, and there was no damage. “We are working closely with the FBI on this issue,” Mosier said in a statement to WYFF News 4. Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan told WTLX-TV that a deputy went to the hydro station, where people reported that someone fired from the passenger side window of a vehicle that went by. The witnesses said the shooter fired toward the woods nearby, not at them or the power plant or dam, “so we can’t absolutely confirm that there was any threat to the power station,” Boan said.The report comes as the FBI continues to investigate multiple shots fired at two Duke Energy substations in Moore County, North Carolina. The FBI says the substations are located approximately 10 miles apart in West End and Carthage, North Carolina. The damage led to a massive power outage of approximately 45,000 customers. Anyone with information regarding either case should contact local authorities or the FBI. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Duke Energy in South Carolina is working closely with the FBI after gunfire was reported near a hydro station in Ridgeway, South Carolina.
A Duke Energy spokesman said the gunfire was reported Wednesday night near the Wateree Hydro Station in Ridgeway.
Ryan Mosier said no one was injured, no outages were reported, and there was no damage.
“We are working closely with the FBI on this issue,” Mosier said in a statement to WYFF News 4.
Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan told WTLX-TV that a deputy went to the hydro station, where people reported that someone fired from the passenger side window of a vehicle that went by. The witnesses said the shooter fired toward the woods nearby, not at them or the power plant or dam, “so we can’t absolutely confirm that there was any threat to the power station,” Boan said.
The report comes as the FBI continues to investigate multiple shots fired at two Duke Energy substations in Moore County, North Carolina.
The FBI says the substations are located approximately 10 miles apart in West End and Carthage, North Carolina.
The damage led to a massive power outage of approximately 45,000 customers.
Anyone with information regarding either case should contact local authorities or the FBI.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Moore v. Harper, the crucially important case heard at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, centers on a fundamentally unserious idea. North Carolina Republicans, defending an unconstitutional gerrymander, insist that state legislatures possess virtually limitless power to regulate elections. This silly notion is loosely planted in something called the “independent state legislature theory”—a bit of post hoc fan fiction about a Rehnquist concurrence that only garnered three votes in Bush v. Gore, a case that was meant to be good for one ride only. The fake constitutional history supporting this nonexistent constitutional doctrine is so lacking in substance that it was almost impossible to believe that the high court could spend three hours taking it seriously.
The results were almost beyond parody: At one point, the North Carolina GOP legislature’s lawyer, David Thompson, in court to argue that the power to set election procedures is unreviewable by state courts, said that he would soon prove that this was the express intent of virtually all of the colonies from the jump. Justice Sonia Sotomayor mustered a terse response: “Yes if you rewrite history, it’s very easy to do …”
As my colleague Mark Joseph Stern explains, the sledding only got rougher for Thompson from there. He ended up conceding away big hunks of his case, including the fact that a governor could exercise a veto over a state legislature, and also that the North Carolina Supreme Court decision in this matter was correct on the merits, but irrelevant to his case. But a fascinating aspect of Moore v. Harper as argued on Wednesday morning was the ample evidence that like the public itself, various members of the Supreme Court seem to be inching away from blatant democracy-busting as a strategy in a partisan war over democracy.
It’s a trend. There is no disputing that election deniers and coup enthusiasts were roundly shellacked in the midterms. Vigilante violence at polling places didn’t end up happening. Polls show that for voters, protecting democracy was a huge motivator and priority. Even the most rabid voices attacking election integrity ended up conceding defeat, and the handful who refused were ignored into oblivion. It is at least plausible that the midterms, in tandem with Donald Trump’s rapidly plummeting fortunes, prove that Americans prefer that their democracy play out at the ballot box, and not—with all due respect to Ginni Thomas—in backroom deals about fake electors. Efforts to invalidate election results through vote suppression, election subversion, personal manipulation, and even, at worst, violence are not a winning program with voters, it turns out.
And that was exactly what Moore v. Harper was attempting to turbo-charge. It’s a bogus theory that makes a mockery of both elections and of legislative efforts to protect elections. Perhaps it was unsurprising that Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh each expressed fundamental misgivings at Thompson’s maximalist vision of doing away with checks and balances. Justice Elena Kagan, explaining what is at stake under the broad contours of the independent state legislature theory, put it this way to Thompson:
This is a theory with big consequences. It would say that if a legislature engages in the most extreme forms of gerrymandering, there is no state constitutional remedy even if the courts think that that’s a violation of the constitution. It would say that legislators could enact all manner of restrictions on voting, get rid of all kinds of voter protections that the state constitution in fact prohibits. It might allow the legislatures to insert themselves and to give themselves a role in the certification of elections and the way election results are calculated. So in all these ways, I think what might strike a person is that this is a proposal that gets rid of the normal checks and balances on the way big governmental decisions are made in this country.
What Kagan put into words was something that transcended the usual my team/your team rhetoric, and sounded much more urgent than some of the both-siderism we kept hearing about how much this case turns on “whose ox is being gored” (Clarence Thomas) or that lawlessness was “in the eye of the beholder” (Ketanji Brown Jackson). (If there is anything more meta than a Supreme Court that has so often tilted into lawlessness pondering how to curb judicial lawlessness, I can’t quite imagine what it would sound like.) But Kagan played this out in a comment that seemed both heartfelt and brutally honest when she told Don Verrilli, representing the state of North Carolina, that she had been reflecting on “how very good judges on very good courts can find it incredibly easy to disagree with each other.” She added, somewhat wistfully:
I think that every single one of us on this bench has written opinions at times, saying that other judges, whether it’s other judges on this Court or lower court judges, have engaged in policymaking rather than in law. …. I mean, it’s just sort of one of the things that judges say when they really disagree with another opinion … these are things that judges say to each other all the time.
Suddenly, she didn’t seem to be talking about the North Carolina legislature and its partisan gerrymander, so much as deploring the rhetoric deployed by jurists with whom she serves. And if I am correct that at this point in the arguments, we were talking less about checks and balances than about partisanship and tribalism and accusations of bad faith, former Solicitor General Don Verrilli certainly picked up on that theme when he offered this a few moments later:
If I could, there’s just one last point I would like to make about whose ox is being gored here, which I think is quite important. Actually, there’s a great deal of sentiment in this country about the problems with extreme partisan gerrymandering and this Court’s opinion in Rucho acknowledged it. And states have actually responded in nonpartisan ways. I can think of four states, New York, Florida, California, and Ohio, all of which are in the control of one political party where presumably the incentives would have been lined up to maximize partisan advantage through the redistricting process, but in all four of those states, they amended their constitutions through the work of the people to restrict partisan gerrymandering and those provisions have been enforced. … And so, I do think it is more than whose ox is being gored.
We can be better than this, he was urging, and some states have done better. It seemed to me that both Kagan and Verrilli were making a pitch toward democracy-affirming solutions that would put democracy ahead of partisan brinksmanship on existential questions around voting rights, checks and balances, and the will of the people.
If some of what was leaching into the arguments in Moore was a kind of high-level modeling of what it would mean for judges and legislatures to back away from the zero-sum democracy-busting that has been repudiated by the voting public in recent weeks, it surely had the effect of sounding strange, really strange, in a zero-sum democracy-busting case before an ever more win-at-all-costs democracy-busting court. But given that the country seems to have lost its appetite for that kind of politics, and rhetoric, and governance, at least a little bit, perhaps it is fitting that this could be the case in which the Supreme Court could begin to back away from dangerous anti-democratic ideas as well.
To be sure, a “compromise” position between batshit insane and functional jurisprudence could still lead to a horrible outcome in Moore: Even the minimalist reading of the independent state legislature doctrine could undermine checks and balances and election law. The prospect of a “compromise” that would give any credence at all to the ideas of John Eastman and his confederates, who sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election, is not a “win” by any stretch. But in an argument again marked by interruptions and potshots and snark, what Kagan and Verrilli seemed to be offering up was a different, more sober tone—a kind of offramp from mutually assured catastrophe. It may not survive the power-wash of opinion drafting and compromise, and it may not kill off ISLT altogether, but it’s a powerful key change at a court that’s been all too willing to burn it all down, for far too long.
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- Weekly jobless claims increase 4,000 to 230,000
- Continuing claims rise 62,000 to 1.671 million
WASHINGTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits increased moderately last week, pointing to a still-tight and strong labor market despite growing fears of a recession as the Federal Reserve fights to dampen demand.
Though the weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department on Thursday showed unemployment rolls, or the so-called continuing claims rising to a 10-month high in late November, economists cautioned against reading too much into the move as the data are volatile around this time of the year.
Labor market tightness and resilience keeps the U.S. central bank on course to continue hiking interest rates for a while.
“It is too early to interpret higher continuing claims as a signal of a loosening labor market,” said Isfar Munir, an economist at Citigroup in New York. “The holiday time is generally not attractive to workers to start a new job, compounded by many firms temporarily closing during the holiday period.”
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 230,000 for the week ended Dec. 3. Last week’s increase was in line with economists’ expectations. Claims are well below the 270,000 threshold, which economists said would raise a red flag for the labor market.
Claims tend to be volatile at the start of the holiday season as companies temporarily close or slow hiring, which can make it hard to get a clear read of the labor market. They shot up to a three-month high a week before the Thanksgiving holiday, only to almost unwind the surge in the following week.
Unadjusted claims jumped 87,113 to 286,436 last week, driven by large increases in California, New York, Georgia and Texas. There were also notable rises in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey and Washington state.
The number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid, a proxy for hiring, increased 62,000 to 1.671 million in the week ending Nov. 26, the claims data showed. That was the highest level in continuing claims since February.
The unemployment rate for people on jobless benefits increased to 1.2%, the highest since March, from 1.1% in the prior week. That suggests it is taking a bit longer for the unemployed to find work.
Stocks on Wall Street were trading higher. The dollar fell against a basket of currencies. U.S. Treasury yields rose.
“This might be a sign of a modest easing in the tightness of the labor market and, if it continues, it would sound a cautionary note on the outlook,” said Conrad DeQuadros, senior economic advisor at Brean Capital in New York.
But DeQuadros also warned that the data was difficult to seasonally adjust around Thanksgiving.
“We should wait to see if continuing claims continue to rise or whether the insured rate falls back modestly in the first week of December as it did in 2020 and 2021,” he said.
Other economists also struck a cautionary tone, arguing that adjusting the data for seasonal fluctuations with an alternative model showed a smaller increase than reported by the government.
“This could be particularly important for the continuing claims data that show a clear upward trend for filings in recent months in the official figures but less noticeable of a move up using some alternative seasonal adjustments,” said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.
Despite the recent steady rise in continuing claims, there has been no significant shift in labor market dynamics.
The government reported last week that nonfarm payrolls increased by 263,000 jobs in November. Economists say technology firms are right-sizing after over-hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that small firms remain desperate for workers.
Businesses are also hoarding workers after difficulties finding labor in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 1.7 job openings for every unemployed person in October.
The Fed wants to slow the labor market to cool inflation and has raised its policy rate by 375 basis points this year from near zero to a 3.75%-4.00% range in the fastest rate-hiking cycle since the 1980s.
Economists expect the Fed will continue tightening monetary policy and lift the policy rate to a level higher than the recently projected 4.6%, where it could stay for some time.
Initial and continuing claims are expected to gradually rise, largely driven by white-collar layoffs.
“There will likely be more layoffs among white-collar positions because of labor supply constraints, which are less binding among white-collar positions,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics in New York. “Businesses are hoarding low-skilled workers because they have been difficult to find and retain.”
Reporting by Lucia Mutikani;
Editing by Dan Burns and Andrea Ricci
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.