New claims for U.S. jobless benefits fell 10,000 last week to a level slightly lower than forecast, a government report showed on Thursday, suggesting continued health in the labor market.
The number of Americans filing initial claims for state unemployment aid fell by 10,000 to 302,000 in the week ended March 25, from an upwardly revised 312,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said.
However, a Labor Department official said the large upward revision in the prior week's initial claims figure from an initially reported 302,000 was due to the introduction of new seasonal factors.
Economists polled by Reuters forecast initial claims for the March 25 week to rise to 305,000.
The four-week moving average of claims, which offers a better view of trends because it smooths weekly volatility, fell by 1,500 to 310,750 The prior week's average had been revised to 312,250 from an initially reported 306,500 due to the new seasonal factors.
Economists say an average pace of layoffs of about 300,000 a week is consistent with steady employment growth.
The number of unemployed workers still on the benefit rolls after receiving an initial week of aid rose by 20,000 to 2.48 million in the March 18 week, the latest for which figures were available. The March 11 week's figure had been downwardly revised to 2.46 million from an initially reported 2.47 million under the old seasonal factors.
The latest level of these continued claims was slightly higher than the 2.472 million forecast by economists.