There were 339,000 first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, a decrease from last week's revised figure of 369,000, the Employment and Training Administration says.
Reuters reports it's the lowest number in more than four years. Reuters adds:
"The prior week's figure was revised up to show 2,000 more applications than previously reported.
"Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims edging up to 370,0000 last week. The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, fell 11,500 to 364,000."
As we've said in the past few months, in recent months the claims had remained fickle, stuck in the 350,000 to 400,000 range.
The four-week moving average dropped also dropped to 364,000, "a decrease of 11,500 from the previous week's revised average of 375,500."
CNN Money reminds us that "the latest jobless claims figures come less than a week after a strong monthly jobs report raised eyebrows and unleashed a political firestorm, with former GE CEO Jack Welch alleging that the numbers were manipulated."
Update at 3:28 p.m. ET. All States Reported Data:
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Labor tell us that all states "reported claims data this week," which contradicts the earlier report we pointed to from the Journal.
The spokesperson continues:
"The decline in claims this week was driven by smaller than expected increases in most states and because of drops in claims in a number of states where we were expecting an increase. No single state was responsible for the majority of the decline in initial unemployment insurance claims."
Update at 9:16 a.m. ET. A Note Of Caution:
In its report, The Wall Street Journal sounds a note of caution:
"However, the report may not be as positive as the sharp drop indicates. A Labor Department economist said one large state didn't report additional quarterly figures as expected, accounting for a substantial part of the decrease."