The number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance for the first time fell last week, matching the lowest level since August 2008, according to government data released Thursday.
There were 439,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended March 27, down 6,000 from an upwardly revised 445,000 the previous week, according to the Labor Department's weekly report.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected new claims to dip to 440,000 in the week. The number of new claims matches the lowest level since the week ended Feb. 6.
The Labor Department also tracks the 4-week moving average of initial claims, which smoothes out volatility in the measure. That number was 447,250 for the week, down 6,750 from the previous week's downwardly revised average of 454,000.
The report also said that 4,662,000 people filed continuing claims in the week ended March 20, the most recent data available. That figure was down 6,000 from the preceding week's 4,668,000 claims and slightly higher than the 4.62 million economists expected, according to Briefing.com.
The 4-week moving average for continuing claims was 4,679,500, a decrease of 12,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 4,692,000.