WASHINGTON - Seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims fell 13,000 to 403,000 for the week ending April 16, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Department officials expected a drop in claims after a spike at the end of the quarter.
Continuing claims fell to 3.695 million for the week ending April 9, their lowest level since the week of September 27, 2008, when they were 3.636 million.
Economists had expected 393,000 initial claims for the week of April 16 and continuing claims of 3.67 million according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, a less volatile figure rose to 399,000 for the week ending April 16, up from the previous week's 397,000.
There were three states with estimated data in today's report: Alaska, Pennsylvania and Virginia.