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U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Drop To Nearly 50-Year Low

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First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits once again slid to their lowest level in nearly 50 years in the week ended April 6th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 196,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week's revised level of 204,000.

The continued drop surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to rise to 211,000 from the 202,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the unexpected decrease, initial jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 193,000 in October of 1969.

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also dipped to 207,000 from the previous week's revised average of 214,000, hitting its lowest level since December of 1969.

Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also decreased by 13,000 to 1.713 million in the week ended March 30th.

The four-week moving average subsequently dropped to 1,734,500, a decrease of 11,000 from the previous week's revised average of 1,745,500.

Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing a substantial reacceleration in the pace of job growth in the month of March.

The report said non-farm payroll employment jumped by 196,000 jobs in March after edging up by a revised 33,000 jobs in February.

Economists had expected employment to increase by about 180,000 jobs compared to the uptick of 20,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The Labor Department highlighted notable job gains in the healthcare and professional and technical services sectors.

Despite the stronger than expected job growth, the unemployment rate held at 3.8 percent in March, unchanged from February and in line with economist estimates.

The unemployment rate was unchanged as the labor force shrank by 224,000 people compared to a 201,000-person contraction in the household survey measure of employment.

The report said average hourly employee earnings rose by $0.04 to $27.70 in March, although the annual rate of growth slowed to 3.2 percent from 3.4 percent.

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