Economic Report: What layoffs? U.S. jobless claims fall to lowest level since 1969



Fries and a job? Employees at potato processing plant. Millions of Americans have found jobs in recent years and layoffs are near an all-time modern low.

The numbers: The rate of layoffs in the U.S. fell in late April to the lowest level since 1969, yet another sign that a roaring labor market shows no sign of cooling off.

Initial jobless claims fell by 24,000 to 209,000 in the week ended April 21, the government said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a 230,000 reading.

The more stable monthly average of claims declined by 2,250 to 229,250, the government said Thursday.

The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, dropped by 29,000 to 1.84 million.

What happened: Jobless claims continue to fall, though the latest decline may have been exaggerated by the timing of the Easter holiday. Whatever the case, layoffs are now near the lowest level since early in the first term of President Richard Nixon.

Big picture: Excellent. Most workers who want a job can find one and companies are still hiring at a rapid pace. Wages are also rising, though not as fast as they normally do when the labor market is this strong.

The strength of the labor market all but assures the nearly nine-year-old economic expansion will continue for some time to come and perhaps set a record.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, +0.25%

and Standard & Poor’s

SPX, +0.18%

were set to open higher in Thursday trades. The 10-year Treasury yield

TMUBMUSD10Y, -1.18%

  was little changed at 2.99%.

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