Washington, DC - The total number of workers receiving unemployment benefits is running at the lowest levels in 44 years, the Department of Labor reported Thursday in more encouraging news about the economy.

Over the most recent month, the total number of workers getting benefits fell to 1.73 million, the lowest such number since December of 1973, when the labor force was much smaller. In comparison, more than 6 million workers were getting such claims during the worst of the recession.

Low numbers of unemployment insurance beneficiaries are a good sign. They suggest that layoffs are rare and that laid-off workers are able to get jobs more easily.