New U.S. jobless claims cling near 49-year low of 211,000

The numbers: The rate of layoffs in the U.S. stuck near a 49-year low in early May, just more proof that an ultratight labor market shows no sign of softening.
Initial jobless claims were unchanged at 211,000 in the week ended May 5, the government said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a 215,000 reading.
The more stable monthly average of claims, meanwhile, fell by 5,500 to 216,000 to touch the lowest level since December 1969.
The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, rose by 30,000 to 1.79 million.
What happened: Jobless claims are near the lowest levels ever recorded and probably can’t drop much further. Companies are very reluctant to fire workers or see them leave for greener pastures since it’s so hard to fill open positions.
Big picture: The U.S. keeps churning out more than enough new jobs to absorb new entrants in the labor force, and companies might hire more aggressively if they could find suitably talented workers. Job openings hit another record in March, but a growing shortage of skilled labor means an unusually large number of positions are going unfilled.
As strong as the labor market is, though, worker wages still aren’t rising as rapidly as they normally would with an unemployment rate of just 3.9%.
Market reaction: Stock futures suggested the Dow Industrial Average  was on track for its sixth straight day of gains, its longest winning streak since February.
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