And new claims for unemployment benefits dropped 15,000 to 243,000 in the first full week of October, according to the agency, as the job market bounces back from hurricane damage even faster than forecasters expected.

Low new jobless claims are a good sign. They indicate that layoffs are rare, and accordingly that job creation is strong.

Unemployment benefits are available for up to 26 weeks in most states. Fewer people are now receiving benefits of all duration than at any time since December of 1973, when the total workforce was much smaller. That is a reflection of the strength of the jobs market, and the availability of new positions for laid-off workers.