First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly showed a modest decrease in the week ended March 7th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report said initial jobless claims dipped to 211,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 215,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 218,000 from the 216,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average crept up to 214,000, an increase of 1,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 212,750.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, fall by 11,000 to 1.722 million in the week ended February 29th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims still rose to 1,727,500, an increase of 5,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,722,250.
Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing employment in the U.S. soared by much more than expected in the month of February.
The Labor Department said employment surged up by 273,000 jobs in February, matching the upwardly revised spike in January.
Economists had expected employment to increase by about 175,000 jobs compared to the jump of 225,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
With the much stronger than expected job growth, the unemployment rate unexpectedly edged down to 3.5 percent in February from 3.6 percent in January. The rate had been expected to remain unchanged.
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