Jobless claims fall near lowest level since 1973

Jobless claims fall near lowest level since 1973
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Jobless claims fell last week to their second lowest level in nearly 43 years as employers retain their workers amid a tightening labor market.

First-time filings for unemployment benefits dropped 5,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 249,000, down from the previous week's 254,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It's the lowest number of claims since late 1973, with the exception of one week in mid-April.

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Claims hit a four-decade low of 248,000 in April.

The less-volatile four-week average decreased 2,500 to 253,500 from the previous week's 256,000, the lowest level since Dec. 8, 1973, when it was 252,250.

Claims have been below 300,000 for 83 straight weeks, the longest stretch since 1970.

Overall, the number of Americans continuing to receive jobless benefits declined 6,000, to 2.06 million, a drop of 7 percent from a year ago, in the week ending Sept. 24.

Estimates for the government's September jobs report set for release on Friday are running between 165,00 and 175,000 positions created. The unemployment rate is expected to hold at 4.9 percent. 

A separate report on Wednesday from payroll processor ADP, showed that U.S. businesses added jobs 154,000 last month, which was the slowest pace in five months as the economy closes in on full employment. 

Private-sector firms have added 15 million jobs since late 2010.