The latest Labor Department report released Thursday revealed U.S. jobless claims fell to nearly their lowest level since 1973. In the week of Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, 249,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time, down 5,000 from the previous week. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the number would rise to 257,000. Only once in the last four decades have there been fewer filings; in April of this year, jobless claims hit 248,000, the lowest mark since 1973. Thursday's report marked the 83rd consecutive week that first-time jobless claims have remained below 300,000, which, Reuters reported, "is seen as indicative of a strong labor market."

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