The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, hitting its lowest level since 1973, suggesting the labor market continued to gain momentum despite weak economic growth.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 247,000 for the week ended April 16, the lowest reading since November 1973, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Claims for the prior week were unrevised.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 263,000 in the latest week. Jobless claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with healthy labor market conditions, for 59 weeks, the longest stretch since 1973.
The labor market is strengthening despite signs that economic growth braked sharply in the first quarter.