The monthly average of new claims, meanwhile, slipped by 2,250 to 205,750, the government said Thursday. That’s also a 49-year low.

The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits declined by 55,000 to 1.65 million. Known as “continuing” claims, they have fallen to the lowest level since 1973.

What happened: The storm surge caused by Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas likely contributed to the low level of claims last week. Applications in South Carolina fell by an unusually large number, indicating fewer people filed claims due to government office closures and lack of power.