New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped last week and the number of Americans on jobless rolls fell back to levels last seen in 1973, suggesting a further tightening in labor market conditions. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 210,000 for the week ended October 13, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Data for the prior week was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported. Claims fell to 202,000 during the week ended September 15, which was the lowest level since November 1969.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 212,000 in the latest week. The Labor Department said claims for South and North Carolina continued to be affected by Hurricane Florence, which drenched the region in mid-September. Claims for Florida were impacted by Hurricane Michael.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 2,000 to 211,750 last week.