The number of initial jobless claims decreased another 3.6% last week, as the U.S. employment outlook continues to improve.
The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of actual initial claims for the week ended Feb. 11 fell to 348,000 from 361,000 the previous week, which was revised upward 3,000.
Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected 365,000 new jobless claims last week with a range of estimates between 355,000 and 370,000.
Initial claims have declined since last summer and have been lower than 400,000 for most of the past four months. Earlier this month, the Labor Department said the economy added 243,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3%, its lowest level since February 2009.
The four-week moving average, which is considered a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, decreased by 1,750 claims last week to 365,250, which is the lowest since April 2008.
The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate for the week ended Feb. 4 fell to 2.7% from an unrevised 2.8%, according to the Labor Department.
The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits for the week ended Feb. 4 rose to 7.68 million from 7.66 million the prior week.