For the week ending April 20, according to the Department of Labor, seasonally adjusted initial claims fell to 339,000, down 16,000 from the previous week's revision to 355,000. It was the second lowest showing since January 2008. For the comparable week in 2012, first-time claims were 381,000.
Most analysts prefer the four-week moving average because it flattens volatility in the weekly numbers. The average fell to 357,500, a decrease of 4,500.
The drop in claims indicates that the expected loss of jobs from the sequester of tens of billions of dollars in federal spending has not yet happened.
For the week ending April 6, the total ongoing claims filed in all programs, both state and federally funded, fell 81,605 to 5,071,050. For the comparable week of 2012, 6,683,265 persons claimed benefits in all programs.
That decrease comes from a combination of out-of-work people getting jobs, exhausting their benefits or leaving the labor force.