A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits decreased from an upwardly revised level in the week ended January 25th.
The report said initial jobless claims fell to 216,000, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 223,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 215,000 from the 211,000 originally reported for the previous week.
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also dipped to 214,500, a decrease of 1,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 216,250.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also slid by 44,000 to 1.703 million in the week ended January 18th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims dropped to 1,755,500, a decrease of 6,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,761,750.
Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched monthly employment report for January.
Economists expect employment to increase by 156,000 jobs in January after rising by 145,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.5 percent.