First-time claims for unemployment benefits in the U.S. edged lower in the week ended March 10th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report said initial jobless claims dipped to 226,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 230,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to slip to 226,000 from the 231,000 originally reported for the previous week.
The less volatile four-week moving average also edged down to 221,500, a decrease of 750 from the previous week’s revised average of 222,250.
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, crept up by 4,000 to 1.879 million in the week ended March 3rd.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims still fell to 1,890,750, a decrease of 17,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,908,000.
Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing a significant acceleration in job growth in the month of February.
The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment surged up by 313,000 jobs in February after jumping by an upwardly revised 239,000 jobs in January.
Economists had expected employment to climb by 200,000 jobs, matching the increase originally reported for the previous month.
Despite the stronger than expected job growth, the unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent in February. The unemployment rate had been expected to dip to 4.0 percent.
The report also said the annual rate of growth in average hourly employee earnings fell to 2.6 percent in February from 2.8 percent in January.