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Unemployment benefit filings hit lowest levels in nearly 50 years

Unemployment benefit filings hit the lowest levels in nearly 50 years, according to a Department of Labor report released Thursday. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims fell to a 49-year low at the end of August, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The numbers indicate continued strength for the U.S. labor market.

The seasonally adjusted number of new claims for unemployment benefits was 203,000 in the last week of August, according to the Labor Department's report on Thursday. That number was down by 10,000 over the previous week's unrevised level of 213,000.

It's the lowest number of unemployment filings since Dec. 6, 1969, when it was 204,500.

The four-week moving average also fell to the lowest level since the same week in 1969. Moving averages are strong predictors of trends.

The second quarter of this year showed the strongest economic growth since 2014, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Unemployment fell to 3.9 percent in April, the lowest level in nearly 18 years, according to the Department of Labor.

Also in April, and for the first time on record, the number of job openings for Americans exceeded the number of job seekers.

Some analysts are predicting that the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates this month.

“The economy is in overdrive with jobless claims at lows not seen since the 1960s, and this gives the Fed the green light to raise interest rates later this month and take away some of the economy’s punch,” Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York, told Reuters.

If interest rates are increased, it would be the third time this year.

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