Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The number of Americans who claimed unemployment benefits declined by 26,000 to 323,000 in the week ended March 1, which marks the lowest level since late November, according to a Labor Department report released Thursday.
The figure was less than economists’ forecast of 335,000 and helped cut the four-week moving average of claims.
Claims climbed two weeks ago, and the highest level since the middle of December. Bad weather kept some people from filing their applications or caused a backlog due to the closure of state governments.
The four-week average is a more reliable gauge of the jobless claims as it reduces the effects of weather and smoothes out volatility in the weekly data. The monthly average fell modestly by 2,000 to 336,500.
In the week ended Feb. 22, continuing claims declined by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.91 million, according to the government report. Continuing claims indicate the number of people already receiving benefits. Initial claims from two weeks ago were upwardly revised by the Labor Department to 349,000 from 348,000