Initially claims climbed by 6,000 in the seven days ended February 18 from a revised 238,000 in the prior week, the government said.
The less volatile four-week average of initial claims, however, dropped by 4,000 to 241,000, touching the lowest mark since July 1973. The monthly average smooths out the volatility in the weekly report.
Companies are eager to hold on to experienced workers with the economy growing steadily, and good help has become harder to find as the labor pool shrinks. The unemployment rate stood at 4.8% in January.
As a result, the number of new claims each week has registered less than 300,000 for 103 straight weeks, the longest patch since Richard Nixon was president and the Vietnam War was still ongoing.
Continuing jobless claims, meanwhile, fell by 17,000 to 2.06 million in the week ended Feb. 11. These claims, reported with a one-week delay, reflect the number of people already collecting unemployment checks.
What to read next