Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The number of unemployed Americans filing for benefits has fallen to a 49-year low, new Labor Department figures showed Thursday.
The department counted 199,000 seasonally adjusted initial claims last week, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week -- the lowest level for initial claims since Nov. 15, 1969.
Weekly applications are often an indication for the impact of layoffs. The current figures may indicate U.S. companies are confident enough in the economy to hold onto workers.
The unemployment claims data is one of the handful of economic reports still being produced by the government, since the Labor Department was funded before the shutdown.
The number of furloughed government workers asking for assistance increased to 25,419 -- twice the previous week's figure -- but those are tracked separately and aren't included in the overall application figures.
Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that U.S. economy added 312,000 jobs, easily beating out projects that would it add just 181,000.
"The shutdown is harming the U.S. economy and American workers, both federal employees and those in the private sector supporting government functions," the Business Roundtable said. "The shutdown is also preventing policymakers from focusing on solutions to create strong, sustained economic growth in America."