The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell sharply last week to its lowest level since the early days of the 2007-09 recession, suggesting the job market is still healing despite weakness in the broader economy.
Other data on Thursday showed a narrowing of the U.S. trade gap in March, although drops in imports and exports during the month gave potential warning signs over the strength of domestic and foreign demand.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 18,000 to a seasonally adjusted 324,000 the Labor Department said.
The claims report runs counter to a growing number of signals that economic activity softened in March and April, a phenomena economists have dubbed the spring swoon because it also happened in the previous two years.
The data on claims has no direct bearing on the Labor Department’s monthly employment report for April due on Friday. However, it suggests that while employers have cut back on hiring, they are feeling less pressure to lay workers off.
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