The Labor Department said on Thursday that first-time claims for unemployment benefits dropped to 339,000 last week, down 30,000 from the week before. That marked the lowest number since February 2008, Reuters noted.
It also surprised economists, who had predicted an increase to 370,000 last week. The government revised upward the prior week’s claims by 2,000. The four-week average dropped to 364,000, down 11,500.
Last week’s numbers are adjusted to account for variations in seasonal hiring. The government noted that without the seasonal adjustment, the number of first time jobless claims rose last week, but not as much as predicted.
Analysts said the report was consistent with other employment data that was modestly encouraging in recent weeks.