The number of U.S. workers who filed new applications for unemployment benefits dropped sharply by 30,000 last week to 339,000, the lowest level in more than four years, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected initial claims in the week of Oct. 6 to rise 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 368,000. Last week’s number was revised up by 2,000 to 369,000.
The four-week average of new claims, meanwhile, dropped 11,500 to 364,000, the lowest level since late March. The moving average is considered a more accurate barometer of employment trends because it smooths out quirks in the weekly data.
In the week of Sept. 29, the number of people who continued to receive benefits under state unemployment programs declined 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.27 million. The four-week average of continuing claims fell by 7,750 to 3.28 million.