Unemployment benefits claims drop to lowest level in 49 years

Unemployment benefits claims drop to lowest level in 49 years

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits plummented to its lowest level in more than 49 years last week. 

First-time jobless claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 210,000 in the week ending Feb. 24, a drop of 10,000, which is the lowest level since Dec. 6, 1969, when it was 202,000, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. 

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The four-week average, which is less volatile than the weekly figure, dipped to 220,500, a decrease of 5,000, the lowest level since Dec. 27, 1969, when it was 219,750. 

The economy added 200,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent, the lowest level in 17 years. 

The February jobs report is set for release on March 9. 

Economic growth is expected to pick up pace this year behind a shot of stimulus from the new tax law, although the expansion may fall short of the White House's prediction of 3 percent growth. 

Growth in the final three months of last year slipped to 2.5 percent, slightly below the initial estimate of 2.6 precent.

Overall growth was 2.3 percent last year.