US jobless claims drop 5,000 to 180,000, showing job market is ‘in excellent shape’

The numbers: Initial jobless claims fell by 5,000 to 180,000 in the week ending April 23, the US Department of Labor said on Thursday.

The drop was in line with the forecasts of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.

Key details: Meanwhile, the number of people already collecting state jobless benefits fell by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 1.41 million in the week ending April 16. These so-called continuous requests are at their lowest level since the early 1970s.

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

What are they saying? “The labor market remains in excellent shape heading into the spring quarter. We expect payroll jobs to increase by nearly 450,000 in April and the unemployment rate to decline to 3.5 percent,” said Stuart Hoffman, senior economic advisor at PNC Financial Services Group.

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