Initial jobless claims fell 8,000 to 196,000 in the week ended April 6, down from 204,000 in the prior week (previously 202,000). The Labor Department said this was the lowest since October 4, 1969 when it was 193,000. The two readings are not fully comparable — there have been changes in who can file that has decreased the size of the pool of eligible workers. Nonetheless, these sorts of readings suggest that in spite of some industry restructuring and plans to increase automation, most businesses are holding on to the workers they have. If the economy is operating at a slower pace than last year, the need to attract and retain workers has not yet cooled.
No states estimated claims and the Labor Department cited no special factors.
The level of continuing claims fell 13,000 to 1.713 million in the March 30 week, its lowest level since 1.707 million in the January 12 week. The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.2% for a 48th straight week. The unrounded rate was 1.197% in the March 30 week after 1.207% in the prior week. To all appearances, fewer workers are remaining on the unemployment rolls at a time when there is little slack.
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