For the second consecutive week, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday unexpectedly showing a weekly decline in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits.
The report said initial jobless claims fell to 210,000 in the week ended February 24th, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 220,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 226,000 from the 222,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the unexpected decrease, initial jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 202,000 in December of 1969.
The less volatile four-week moving average also dropped to its lowest level since December of 1969, falling by 5,000 to 220,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 225,500
The Labor Department noted claims taking procedures in Puerto Rico and in the Virgin Islands have still not returned to normal.
Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, climbed by 57,000 to 1.931 million in the week ended February 17th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims still fell to 1,920,000, a decrease of 6,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,926,250.
Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched monthly employment report for February.