New claims for U.S. jobless benefits fell sharply last week to their lowest level since April although a Labor Department official said government statisticians had problems seasonally adjusting the data.
Applications for unemployment benefits fell by 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 391,000 in the week ending Sept. 24 from an upwardly revised 428,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected new claims to total 420,000 last week.
The drop in the reading brought new claims below 400,000 for the first time since the week ending August 6.
The non-seasonally adjusted reading decreased 28,880.
The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out volatility, fell to 417,000 from 422,250 the prior week.
U.S. employment growth ground to a halt in August, with zero net job creation raising fears of a new recession and putting pressure on the Federal Reserve to ease monetary policy further at its meeting later this month.