The number of new claims for jobless benefits remained below 310,000 last week for a fourth straight week, the longest such string in nearly nine years. The report fueled inflation fears.
The Labor Department report Thursday came a day after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned that higher interest rates may be needed to slow the economy and keep tight labor markets from pushing up prices.
The Labor Department said new applications for unemployment insurance fell by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000, lowest in more than two months.
The report marked the first time claims remained below 310,000 for four straight weeks since early 1989.
The four-week average of new weekly jobless claims fell by 2,000 last week to 306,750, lowest since 298,500 during the period ended Aug. 9.