The total number of workers receiving unemployment benefits again fell to the lowest level in nearly 44 years in mid-October, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Just 1.89 million people claimed benefits of any duration in the second week of the month, the fewest since late December of 1973. The number of such "continuing claims" has plumbed new multi-decade lows in three consecutive weeks. Benefits are available for up to 26 weeks in most states.

Very few people were losing jobs in October.

New applications for unemployment benefits rose just 10,000 to 233,000 in the third week of October, the Department of Labor reported Thursday, after hitting the lowest level in 44 years the week before.

Forecasters had expected claims to rise to a still-ultra-low 235,000 after last week's rock-bottom.

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

Recent weeks' low claims have been among the strongest signs that the economy remains healthy and that the risk of a recession is low.

The very low number of claims throughout October will raise expectations for the month's job report.