Initial jobless claims fell again last week and remain at the lowest level in four years, as the employment situation continues to improve.
The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of actual initial claims for the week ended Feb. 25 was 351,000 down from 353,000 the previous week, which was revised upward 2,000.
Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected 355,000 new jobless claims last week with a range of estimates between 345,000 and 360,000. Economists believe initial claims lower than 400,000 indicate a strengthening jobs market. Claims have been lower than this threshold since early November.
The four-week moving average, which is considered a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, decreased to 354,000 from the prior week's slightly revised 359,500.
The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate for the week ended Feb. 18 stayed at 2.7%, according to the Labor Department.
The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits for the week ended Feb. 11 rose slightly to 7.49 million from 7.48 million the prior week.