US jobless claims drop to lowest level since 1973

Just 223,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, fewest in nearly 44 years.



The Labor Department says unemployment claims dropped by 19,000 from 242,000 the previous week to the lowest level since March 1973 when President Richard Nixon was in the White House. The less volatile four-week average fell by 6,250 to 234,250, lowest since April 1973.



The weekly number has come in below 300,000 for two straight years, longest such streak since 1970.



Overall, 2.07 million Americans are collecting unemployment benefits, down 7.4 percent from a year ago.



Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. The low levels suggest that employers are confident enough in the economy to hold onto their workers.



The unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in January, close to what economists consider full employment.


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