Initial jobless claims fell 13,000 to 253,000 in the week ended April 9, according to the Labor Department, the lowest since March of 1973.

The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly declined last week to match a more than 42-year low, indicating employers are upbeat about an economy that bogged down in the first quarter.

Jobless claims dropped by 13,000 to 253,000 in the week ended April 9, equaling the level in March that was the lowest since November 1973, a report from the Labor Department showed Thursday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for 270,000. Continuing claims also declined, to the lowest since mid-October.

Scant dismissals along with persistent additions to headcounts indicate companies are looking beyond the recent softness in the economy. A jobless rate near an eight-year low and the healthy outlook for employment are among reasons some economists project consumer spending and growth to pick up this quarter.

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