The US Department of Labor (DoL) said there were 6,000 fewer benefits requests for the week ending March 6 from a revised 347,000 the week before.
The drop in first-time filings pushed a closely watched four-week moving average of claims lower, down 6,750 to 345,750. The average is widely followed because it irons out short-term volatility.
In addition, the number of Americans continuing to draw jobless benefits also dropped 41,000 to 3.03 million in the week ended February 28. That put it at the lowest level since July 2001.
Economists participating in Reuters’ weekly survey had forecast claims to hold steady at the 345,000 initially reported for the February 28 week.