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Filings for unemployment benefits remained at a four-decade low last week as employers retain their employees amid a tightening labor market.

Applications for jobless claims were unchanged for the week ending Oct. 8, at 246,000, the lowest level since Nov. 3, 1973, when it was 244,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

{mosads}The previous week’s claims were lower than first reported, so applications in each of the last two weeks were the lowest since November 1973.

The four-week average also hit its lowest level since 1973, falling 3,500, to 249,250.

The number of people continuing to receive a weekly check fell by 16,000, to 2.05 million, in the week ended Oct. 1, the fewest since June 2000.

Jobless claims have remained below 300,000 — a level reflecting a healthy market — for 84 straight weeks, the longest streak since 1970.

Employers added 156,000 jobs in September, a slower pace than over the summer but enough to lower the unemployment rate.

Economists say they expect job gains to slow as the labor market moves toward full employment.

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