The applications for jobless benefits in the U.S. fell unexpectedly last week to reach the lowest level since May 2008, indicating an improving labor market in the nation.

Initial jobless claims in the US decreased by 20,000 to 368,000 compared with the revised figure of 388,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Markets had expected the jobless claims to rise 400,000 in the week.

Also, the seasonally adjusted four-week moving average of initial claims, considered as a more accurate measure of employment trends than the weekly number, decreased by 12,750 to 401,250.

Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits stood at 3 percent for the week ending Feb. 19, down 0.1 percent from the previous week.

While Florida witnessed the largest increase in claims with 2,613 people filing for employment benefits, Illinois saw the largest drop in claims at 530.

However, the number of people receiving jobless allowance from state and federal governments stood at 9.23 million in the week ended Feb. 12, up 74,366 from the prior week.