The number of Americans applying for first time unemployment benefits unexpectedly dropped to its lowest level since since January 2008, one month into the Great Recession, according to figures released by the Department of Labor. 

During the week that ended April 27, 2013, seasonally adjusted initial claims declined by 18,000 from the previous week's 342,00 to 324,000. The four-week moving average, generally considered by economists to be a better indicator of unemployment activity than more volatile weekly figures, was also on the decline during the last full week of April. At 342,250, it decreased by 16,000 from the prior week's revised average of 358,250.

The insured unemployment rate was 2.3 percent for the week ending April 20 which was the same as the previous week's. The four week moving index of insured unemployment was up 12,000 from the preceding week's during the same time period. 

"Employers are not necessarily shedding workers, but they are not necessarily enthusiastic about adding to payrolls either," said economist Tom Simons to Bloomberg "It's because of the low level of growth in the economy, and some caution about the future of fiscal policy."

The states with the highest unemployment rates in the week ending April 13 were in Alaska, Puerto Rico, New Jersey, Wisconsin  and California.  

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