On Thursday, the Labor Department announced that seasonally-adjusted first-time unemployment claims last week fell to 332,000, down 10,000 from the prior week.
The third consecutive decline in weekly claims surprised economists, who were expecting unemployment claims to rise to 350,000. It also sent the four-week moving average of first-time jobless claims down to 346,750, its best showing in five years, Reuters noted.
16 U.S. states and territories saw first-jobless claims fall, while 37 others saw claims rise last week, the government said. Jobless claims for the prior week were revised upward from earlier reports of 340,000, to 342,000, Bloomberg noted.
Last week, the Labor Department said that the U.S. economy produced a better-than-expected 236,000 new jobs in February. The U.S. unemployment rate ticked down from 7.9% in January, to 7.7%.