A chart on weekly initial jobless claims in the United States since January 1967. IBT / Statista

Despite continued upward pressure from the partial government shutdown, the labor department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 199,000 for the week ended Jan. 19 -- the lowest since mid-November in 1969 when 197,000 applications were recorded.

The level of initial claims underscored the strength of the labor market, coming in way lower than economists had forecast in a poll conducted by International Business Times. Analysts expected claims to rise to 217,500 in the latest week, from 212,000 recorded in the week ended Jan. 12.

The four-week moving average, considered a better measure of the labor market as it eliminates week-to-week volatility, saw a decline of 5,500 to 215,000.

The number of federal workers filing for jobless benefits -- not included in the headline claims number -- rose 14,965 to 25,419 in the week ended Jan. 12, reflecting the partial government shutdown. Now in its fifth week and longest in the history, the partial shutdown has affected 800,000 government employees, with many working without pay and others furloughed.