Fewer Americans than expected filed for unemployment benefits last week, pushing jobless claims down to their lowest level in nearly 45 years.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 221,0000, the Labor market said Thursday. That put jobless claims near that 216,000 level hit in January, the lowest level since January 1973.
Economists had been forecasting a rise in claims to 232,000.
The four week moving average of claims, which is a more stable measure of employment, also fell. It declined by 10,000 to 224,500, the lowest level since March 1973.
The number of people who had filed for unemployment in earlier weeks and continued to collect last week dropped 33,000 to 1.92 million.
The labor market appears to be at its strongest in decades. But there are signs that last week’s reports of wage growth may have been exaggerated by temporary factors such as one-time tax cut driven bonuses. As well, most of the gains appear to be concentrated among management-level employees.