New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to their lowest level in more than 48 years last week, suggesting that March’s slowdown in job growth was probably temporary.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 209,000 for the week ended April 21, the lowest level since December 1969, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior week was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 230,000 in the latest week. Claims appear to be settling after volatility in recent weeks caused by different timings of the Easter and school spring breaks.
The economy added 103,000 jobs in March, the fewest in six months. Economists shrugged off the modest gains as payback after February’s outsized increase in hiring.