Jobless claims had been inching higher but have now moved sharply lower, down 24,000 in the April 21 week to 209,000 and the lowest level since 1969. There are no special factors to explain the move though seasonal and calendar adjustments during April, due to Easter shifts, can be uneven. The 4-week average, which smooths weekly bumps, fell only 2,250 in the week to 299,250 which is about where it was this time last month.
Continuing claims in lagging data for the April 14 week fell 29,000 to 1.837 million while the unemployment rate for insured workers remains very low, at 1.3 percent.
Employers are holding on to their employees in what is a telling sign of strength in the labor market.