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US jobless claims fall unexpectedly to lowest since late April

A "Now Hiring" sign outside a business in Lithonia, Georgia, U.S., on Monday, April 26, 2021.Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg

Applications for US unemployment insurance dropped unexpectedly to the lowest since late April, suggesting robust demand for workers amid economic uncertainty.

Initial unemployment claims decreased by 16,000 to 193,000 in the week ended Sept. 24, after downward revision in the prior week, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 215,000 new applications.

The four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility from week to week, fell for a fifth week to 207,000.

Continuing claims fell to 1.35 million in the week ended Sept. 17, still historically low.

In Massachusetts, about 3,677 individuals filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, up 2,497 from the week prior, according to the Labor Department.

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Jobless claims have remained at historically low levels in recent months as employers still try to fill millions of open positions while retaining the workers they already have. Half of Americans believe jobs were “plentiful” in September, according to data released Tuesday.

Still, hiring is expected to weaken as the Federal Reserve continues to aggressively raise interest rates in its effort to bring inflation down. The impact from the hikes, which have already sent borrowing costs soaring for houses and cars, will likely to work its way through the economy over the next few months and lead to higher unemployment.

Dana Gerber of the Globe staff contributed to this report.