(CN) – The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level since Richard Nixon was president, despite severe weather disruptions that caused a rash of job losses in September, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The government said first-time unemployment claims dropped 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 for the week that ended on October 14. That was the best showing since March 1973.
The four-week moving average of claims, a steadier measure of the labor market performance, fell 9,500 to 248,250.
The economy shed 33,000 jobs last month after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria rumbled across the Southeast, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. That was the first monthly loss in nearly seven years.
But last week’s numbers suggest the effect of the hurricanes is already fading.
The unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent in September, the lowest level since early 2001, as the job market maintained its overall strength.
The number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits fell to 1.89 million, a drop of 16,000 in the week ended Oct. 7, the lowest level since December 1973, the Labor Department said.