The U.S. jobs market edged closer to its pre-pandemic self last week as initial jobless claims totaled just 406,000 for the week ended May 22, according to the Labor Department. While that level is still well above the pre-Covid norm, it is the closest to the previous trend and a decline from the previous week’s 444,000.
U.S. orders for big-ticket manufactured goods dropped unexpectedly in April for the first time in 11 months as a shortage of computer chips disrupted auto production. The Commerce Department reported that orders for factory goods meant to last at least three years fell 1.3% in April after rising 1.3% in March. Factories have been hamstrung by a shortage of supplies as the economy reopens from the pandemic and demand for goods and services rebounds rapidly.
Contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes declined in April following a record-low inventory of homes for sale in the first quarter of 2021. The National Association of Realtors said their Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, fell 4.4. Pending home contracts are seen as a forward-looking indicator of the health of the housing market because they become sales one to two months later. Compared to one year ago, pending sales were up 51.7%.