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Economic Report: U.S. jobless claims fall 5,000 to 180,000, showing labor market ‘in excellent shape’

The numbers: Initial jobless claims fell by 5,000 to 180,000 in the week ended April 23, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.  

The decline was in line with forecasts of economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

Key details: The number of people already collecting state jobless benefits, meanwhile, slid by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 1.41 million in the week ended April 16. These so-called continuing claims are at their lowest level since early 1970.

Big picture: Claims are near multi-decade lows as demand for workers keeps layoffs low, said Rubeella Farooqi, economist at High Frequency Economics. Any increase in claims would be a leading indicator of a slowing economy, but there are no signs of it now, economists say.

What are they saying? “The labor market remains in excellent shape as the spring quarter begins. We expect a payroll job rise of close to 450,000 in April and a decline in the unemployment rate to 3.5 percent,” said Stuart Hoffman, senior economic advisor at PNC Financial Services Group.

Market snapshot: U.S. stocks
DJIA,
-0.01%

SPX,
+0.26%

opened higher Thursday on better-than-expected earnings reports.

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