The number of initial jobless claims – those applying for the first-time for unemployment benefits – fell 10,000 to 311,000 last week, which is the lowest number in four months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This beat analyst expectations by about 12,000.
The four-week rolling average, considered a better indicator of unemployment trends, was down a very sharp 9,500 to 317,750 which is the lowest level in 6 months.
Continuing claims are also coming down, down 53,000 in data for the March 15 week. The 4-week average is down 31,000 to 2.863 million, which is the lowest level in 3 months.
The unemployment rate for insured workers is unchanged for a fourth week at 2.2%.
Initial jobless claims came in at a lower-than-expected 320,000 in the March 15 week versus 334,000 in the February 15 week.
The same comparison of the 4-week averages showed similar improvement, at 327,000 vs 338,500. Continuing claims, which are reported with a week's lag, rose 41,000 in the March 8 week to 2.889 million. The 4-week average was down 17,000 to 2.897 million which is more than 50,000 below the month-ago comparison.