Initial jobless claims fell 31,000 to 473,000 for the week ended August 21, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday, August 26. The sharp drop, the second biggest decline of 2010, followed three weeks of increased unemployment claims.
The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, stood at 486,750, an increase of 3,250 from the previous week's revised average of 483,500, according to the Labor Department's report. The average is at its worst since November 2009.
Analyst consensus was for a smaller drop in claims, somewhere in between 490,000 and 500,000, according to a Thomson Reuters survey.
Continuing claims fell 62,000 for the week of August 14 to a level of 4.46 million, the best of the recovery and well below the 6.05 million level reported a year ago.
"The continuing news is probably good news for the jobs outlook, suggesting that those who have been out of work are increasingly finding jobs. But some of the decline also reflects the expiration of benefits as job seekers simply fall out of the insured labor pool," according to a Nasdaq news report on jobless claims.
Read about the Labor Department's latest monthly jobs report from the archives of InvestmentAdvisor.com.