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U.S. weekly jobless claims fall to new low

Fewer Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, as companies held onto their workers amid a growing labor shortage.

The Labor Department said on Thursday that initial jobless claims for the week ending May 8 dropped to a new pandemic low of 473,000. That's a drop of 34,000 from the previous week.

The new low came as many employers are struggling to attract workers amid surging demand from consumers post-lockdown.

In a sign that businesses struggled to find enough workers, employers added just 266,000 jobs in April, far fewer than expected.

Nearly 10 million people are officially unemployed in the U.S. yet employers are struggling to fill a record 8.1 million job openings.

Generous unemployment benefits, fears of catching COVID-19 and parents staying home to care for children - among other reasons - have been blamed for the disconnect.

Jobless claims have plunged from a record more than 6.1 million in April 2020.

And several states in the South and Midwest - with unemployment rates below the national average - have even announced recently they will end federally funded pandemic unemployment benefits next month.