The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, nearing a 42-year low as labor market conditions continued to tighten in a boost to the economy.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000 for the week ended Dec.19, not far from levels last seen in late 1973.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims dipping to 270,000 in the latest week. Claims have been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a buoyant labor market, for 42 consecutive weeks. That is the longest stretch since the early 1970s.
However, some of the decline last week could be attributed to difficulties adjusting the figures during the holidays.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it strips out week-to-week volatility, rose 1,750 to 272,500 last week.