The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week to the lowest level in 45 years, but the decline likely overstated the health of the labor market as data for several states were estimated.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 41,000 to a seasonally adjusted 220,000 for the week ended Jan. 13, the lowest level since February 1973, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were unrevised.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 250,000 in the latest week. Claims had increased over the previous four weeks, with economists blaming difficulties adjusting the data for seasonal fluctuations around moving holidays and unseasonably cold weather.