The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting a pickup in the labor market recovery. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 340,000, declining for a second straight week, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
The prior week's claims figure was revised to show 3,000 more applications received than previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to rise to 355,000. The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, also fell 7,000 to 348,750 -- the lowest level since March 2008 -- pointing to some firming in underlying labor market conditions.