First-time claims haven't been that low since the week of Feb. 16, 2008. For the comparable week of 2011, they were 402,000. The four-week running average that flattens volatility in the weekly numbers was 364,000, a decrease of 11,500 from the previous week's revised average of 375,500.
For all programs, federal and state, the total number of Americans claiming benefits for the week ending Sept. 22 fell to 5,044,649, a decrease of 43,970 from the previous week. For the comparable week of last year, 6,819,938 people were claiming benefits. The drop is a combination of people finding jobs and others exhausting their benefits.