The number of Americans filing first-time unemployment claims fell 97,000 to 684,000 last week to its lowest level in over a year, the US Labor Department said Thursday.
Analysts expected 730,000 jobless claims for the week ending March 20, while the previous week was revised upwards 11,000 from 770,000 to 781,000.
This was the first time weekly jobless claims showed an increase below the 700,000 level since the start of the pandemic, their lowest level since March 14, 2020, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US.
Despite the fall in claims, that still leaves more than 10 million Americans jobless since the coronavirus-hit economy shed 22 million positions in March and April.
Millions of Americans have recently started to receive $1,400 stimulus checks as part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan.