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U.S. jobless claims fall, initial claims down 4,000

Staff Writer |
New applications for U.S. jobless benefits fell last week and the number of Americans on unemployment rolls tumbled to a 28-1/2-year low, pointing to rapidly shrinking labor market slack.

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The economy's brightening prospects were further boosted by other data on Thursday showing a sharp acceleration in factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region this month.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 232,000 for the week ended May 13, the Labor Department said. That pushed claims close to levels last seen in 1973.

Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labor market, for 115 straight weeks. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was smaller.

The labor market is close to full employment, with the unemployment rate at a 10-year low of 4.4 percent.

The number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 22,000 to 1.90 million in the week ended May 6, the lowest level since November 1988.

The Philadelphia Fed said its index for current manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region jumped to a reading of 38.8 this month from 22.0 in April.

The index recovered some of the declines of the previous two months.


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