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Economic Report: U.S. unemployment claims dip to 184,000 and stay near 54-year low

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The numbers: New U.S. jobless claims fell slightly to 184,000 in mid-April and stayed near a 53-year low, reflecting a tight labor market in which work is easy to find and layoffs are at record lows.

New filings for unemployment benefits slipped by 2,000 from 186,000 in the prior week,  the Labor Department said Thursday.

Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal forecast initial jobless claims to total a seasonally adjusted 182,000 in the seven days ended April 16.

Layoffs are extremely low thanks too the tightest labor market in decades. New jobless claims have totaled fewer than 200,000 in 10 of the past 11 weeks and recently touched the lowest level since 1968.

Big picture:  It’s a great time for workers. The U.S. has record job openings but not enough people to fill them. Many are leaving one job for another, often getting higher pay and better working conditions in the process.

The strong U.S. labor market is the economy’s biggest buffer against recession, especially with the Federal Reserve moving to raise interest rates to try to tame inflation.

Rising prices are robbing Americans of the benefits of higher wages, however.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.71%

and S&P 500
SPX,
-0.06%

were set to open higher in Thursday trades.

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