The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week, and the four-week moving average hit a near five-year low, pointing to an ongoing gradual recovery in the labor market.
In the week ended Feb. 2, applications for unemployment insurance payments dropped 5,000 to 366,000, according to the Labor Department. That came in above market expectations for a 360,000 reading. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 371,00 from an original reading of 368,000.
A Labor Department analyst said some of the volatility in the data seen at the beginning of the year due to the timing of holidays appeared to be receding, Reuters reports. The analyst said there was nothing unusual in the data, and no states estimated their readings.
The four-week moving average, which normally provides a better indication of the underlying trend in labor markets than the weekly number of jobless claims, edged down by 2,250 to 350,500, marking a nearly five-year low.
The number of people filing for benefits after an initial week of aid increased by 8,000 to 3.22 million in the week ended Jan. 26. The continuing claims figure does not include the number of Americans receiving extended benefits under federal programs.