The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week to 570,000, and those collecting long-term unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level since April, government data showed on Thursday.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast new claims slipping to 565,000 in the week ending August 22 from 580,000 the prior week, which had been previously reported as 576,000.
Continued claims fell to 6.133 million in the week ended August 15 from 6.252 million the prior week. That was the lowest since the week ending April 4 when they were 6.045 million.
In another sign that the recession-battered labor market may be healing, the four-week moving average of people filing claims declined to 566,250 from 571,000.
But the federal cash for clunkers program, designed to aid the struggling U.S. automobile industry, did little to help workers in Michigan during the middle of the month. In the week ended August 15, the number of people making initial filings for jobless benefits rose 4,068 in the state, all from the automobile industry, which is based in Michigan.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert, Editing by Kenneth Barry)