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•  The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that "worker filings for jobless benefits fell again to a fresh pandemic low, extending a steady downward trend and adding to signs of a healing labor market as the economy opens more fully.

"Initial unemployment claims for regular state programs, a proxy for layoffs, fell last week to 406,000 from 444,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That level represents the lowest levels of claims since the coronavirus pandemic’s onset last year and the fourth consecutive week claims have reached a new pandemic low. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast there were 425,000 new claims last week.

"Separately, the Commerce Department reported that orders for durable goods—items designed to last at least three years—fell 1.3% in April, and U.S. gross domestic product in the first quarter grew at a 6.4% seasonally-adjusted annual rate, the same as initially estimated.

"Taken together, the data point to a labor market that is gaining strength as Covid-19 cases steadily decrease, more Americans receive vaccines against the virus and governments ease restrictions on businesses, although the broader economic recovery remains uneven."

•  Kroger announced that its Cincinnati-Dayton division and United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 75 members in Cincinnati, Dayton, Northern Kentucky, and Southeastern Indiana have ratified a new labor agreement today … The Cincinnati-Dayton division is investing $159 million in wages across the five-year agreement … By the end of this contract cycle, the average hourly wage for an associate in the Cincinnati-Dayton division will be nearly $20 per hour not including comprehensive benefits like healthcare and pension."