The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell last week to match the lowest level in more than 40 years. Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., decreased by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 255,000 in the week ended Oct. 10, the Labor Department said Thursday. That matched the level from the July 18 week, the lowest reading since November 1973. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 270,000 new claims last week. Claims for the prior week were revised down by 1,000 to 262,000. The Labor Department said there were no special factors affecting the latest weekly data. The four-week moving average of claims, which evens out weekly ups and downs, fell by 2,250 to 265,000 last week. That was the lowest average reading since December 1973. Claims levels have generally been falling since 2009. The latest data suggests employers are reluctant to lay off workers, a sign the labor market is tightening. Fewer layoffs typically coincide with stronger hiring, but in recent months job gains have slowed from the brisk pace recorded most of last year and the first half of this year. Thursday's report showed the number of continuing unemployment benefits, claims drawn by workers for more than a week, fell by 50,000 to 2,158,000 in the week ended Oct. 3. That was the lowest level of continuing claims since November 2000. Continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag. Write to Eric Morath at email@example.com and David Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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