The number of people out-of-work collecting unemployment dropped to a 7-year low in April, according to new data from the Department of Labor.
Jobless claims fell by 49,000 to 1.98 million, which marks just the second time over the past eight years that the claims dropped below two million. The first time continuing claims dropped below the two million mark was in March.
The last time state agencies issued fewer checks to the unemployed was in April 2000.
First-time jobless claims, however, increased by 10,000 to 244,000 over a seven day period from April 9 to April 15. But the number of new applicants for unemployment benefits has been less than 300,000 for a period of 111 weeks straight, the longest streak of continuously low application numbers since the early 1970s.
There is a “steady downtrend in place in the pace of layoffs,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities, told CBS Marketwatch.
The monthly average of jobless claims also decreased slightly by 4,250 from the previous week to 243,000.
The unemployment rate has also been on a downward trend since the beginning of 2017, dropping from 4.8 percent in January to 4.5 percent in March, Department of Labor statistics show.