First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to their lowest level in nearly five decades in the week ended April 21st, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report said initial jobless claims dropped to 209,000, a decrease of 24,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 233,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 230,000 from the 232,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the much bigger than expected decrease, jobless claims slid to their lowest level since hitting 202,000 in December of 1969.
The less volatile four-week moving average also dipped to 229,250, a decrease of 2,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 231,500.
The Labor Department noted claims taking procedures in Puerto Rico and in the Virgin Islands have still not returned to normal.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, fell by 29,000 to 1.837 million in the week ended April 14th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims also dropped to a 44-year low of 1,849,750, a decrease of 9,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,859,500.
Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched monthly employment report for April.