Jobless claims fall again to 215,000. Strong labor market fuels U.S. economy.

jobless claims fall again to 215,000. strong labor market fuels u.s. economy.

Jobless claims fall again to 215,000. Strong labor market fuels U.S. economy.

The numbers: The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week fell again to 215,000, reaffirming that layoffs are low and the economy is being buoyed by a strong labor market.

Initial jobless claims have hovered between 194,000 and 232,000 this year, a remarkably low level last achieved consistently in the 1960s.

Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast new claims to total 220,000 in the seven days ending May 18, based on seasonally adjusted figures.

Key details: New jobless claims fell in 33 of the 53 states and territories that report these figures to the federal government. Claims rose in 21 others, but all the increases were small.

Omitting seasonal adjustments, actual new claims declined slightly to 192,017 and tacked below 200,000 for the eighth time this year. That’s an exceedingly low level.

The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits in the U.S., meanwhile, rose by 8,000 to 1.79 million, the government said.

These so-called continuing claims are roughly at the same level as they were before the pandemic in 2019.

Big picture: The low level of layoffs reflects a tight labor market in which good help is hard to find.

Most businesses are wary of cutting jobs given the steady expansion in the U.S. economy and the potential for growth-stimulating reductions in interest rates later this year by the Federal Reserve.

The strong labor market has been a key bulwark against the threat of recession.

Looking ahead: “The low level of jobless claims underlines the continued strength of the labor market, which is still characterized by very few layoffs,” said deputy chief U.S. economist Michael Pearce of Oxford Economics.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 rose on Thursday after strong Nvidia earnings.

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