The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week dropped to the lowest level since 2000, suggesting March's moderation in job growth was likely an aberration.
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Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 34,000 to a seasonally adjusted 262,000 for the week ended April 25, the lowest reading since April 2000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 more claims received than previously reported. It was the eighth straight month that claims remained below 300,000, which is usually associated with a strengthening labor market.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 290,000 last week.
A Labor Department analyst said the government had estimated claims for Louisiana because of a power outage in the state. This, however, had little impact on the claims data as the estimate was close to the figure that Louisiana later provided.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 1,250 last week to 283,750.
The number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 74,000 to 2.25 million in the week ended April 18.
The so-called continuing claims covered the period during which the government surveyed households for April's unemployment rate. Continuing claims declined 160,000 between the March and April survey periods, suggesting an improvement in the jobless rate from 5.5 percent in March. (Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)