New claims for unemployment insurance fell by slightly more than expected last week.
First time filings for jobless benefits declined by 33,0000 to 860,000 for the week ended September 12, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists had forecast 875,000.
The previous week was revised up from 880,000 to 893,000.
The figures are the lowest since the pandemic drove unemployment claims to unprecedented highs.
Claims hit a record 6.87 million for the week of March 27. Until a month ago, each subsequent week had seen claims decline. But in late July, the labor market appeared to stall and claims hovered around one million throughout August, a level so high it was never recorded before the pandemic struck.
Jobless claims are a proxy for layoffs and have been closely watched as a signal for how the pandemic is influencing the economy.
Continuing claims, which are reported with a one week lag behind initial claims, fell 916,000 to 12.63 million. The four-week moving average for continuing claims dropped by 532,750 to 13.5 million.
The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending August 29 were in Hawaii (20.3), California (17.3), Nevada (15.6), New York (15.0), Puerto Rico (14.1), Louisiana (13.6), Connecticut (11.9), Georgia (11.9), District of Columbia (11.3), and Massachusetts (11.0).
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending September 5 were in California (+23,841), Texas (+8,618), Louisiana (+8,375), New Jersey (+2,402), and Washington (+2,173), while the largest decreases were in Kentucky (-7,219), Florida (-5,334), Pennsylvania (-2,257), Kansas (-1,915), and Michigan (-994).