The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless aid fell a larger-than-expected 12,000 last week, the government said on Thursday, while the number of longer-term unemployed unexpectedly fell to its lowest level since June.

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits fell to 308,000 in the week ended October 6 from an upwardly revised 320,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said, and roughly on par with the same period a year ago.

The number of so-called continued claims fell for the second straight week, dropping by 15,000 to 2.52 million in the week ended September 22, the latest period for which figures were available. Economists had forecast a rise to 2.55 million.

The number of people already receiving jobless benefits after drawing an initial week of aid dropped to its lowest level since June 16 when claims measured 2.49 million.