The numbers: The rate of layoffs in the U.S. fell slightly in April and clung near a 45-year low, reflecting a booming jobs market in which work is easy to find and companies are scrambling to find help.
Initial jobless claims dipped 1,000 to 232,000 in the week ended April 21. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a 230,000 reading.
The more stable monthly average of claims rose a scant 1,250 to 231,250, the government said Thursday.
The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, fell by 15,000 to 1.86 million.
What happened: Claims rose sharply in New York and California, but those increases were offset by declines almost everywhere else.
The number of people applying for unemployment benefits each week has fallen to levels last seen in the early 1970s.
Big picture: Bright as can be. Job openings are near a record high, unemployment is at a 17-year low and scattered but growing shortages of skilled labor are forcing companies to increase pay or improve benefits to attract or retain employees.
What they are saying?: “Given the size of the labor force and the typical pace of employment churning, it is hard to imagine that claims could go much lower,” said Thomas Simons, senior money market economist at Jefferies LLC. “On the other side of the coin, firms are still finding difficulty in filling positions, so there is no reason to expect that layoffs will accelerate.”
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
and the S&P 500 index
fell in Thursday trades. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury
rose several basis points to 2.9%.