WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose to the highest level in three months as the fast-spreading omicron variant disrupted the job market. Jobless claims rose for the third straight week — by 55,000 to 286,000, highest since mid-October, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out weekly volatility, rose by 20,000 to 231,000, highest since late November. A surge in COVID cases has set back what had been a strong comeback from from last year’s short but devastating coronavirus recession.
Photo: A man walks past a “Now Hiring” sign on a window at Sherwin Williams store, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Woodmere Village, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)