New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits recorded their biggest drop in nearly two years last week, pointing to a further tightening in the labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 for the week ended April 1, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The drop was the largest since the week ending April 25, 2015.
The prior week’s data was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.
Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labor market for 109 straight weeks. That is the longest stretch since 1970 when the labor market was smaller. The labor market is currently near full employment.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits falling to 250,000 last week.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week’s claims data. Claims for Louisiana