Feb. 25 (UPI) -- More than 700,000 workers in the United States have filed for new unemployment claims, the Labor Department said Thursday in its weekly jobless report.
The department said 730,000 people filed new claims last week, a decrease of 111,000 from the previous week.
The figure is considerably lower than the 830,000 new filings most analysts were expecting.
Thursday's report was the first in five weeks to show a decrease in initial unemployment claims, and the first in seven weeks to show initial filings under 800,000.
The department said there were 4.4 million continuing claims, which lag initial claims by a week. The report said the unemployment rate last week was 3.1%.
The report noted that there were 451,000 new claims under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which covers workers who don't qualify for state benefits, a decline of about 60,000 filings.
On Friday, the House is expected to pass President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which includes funding for a number of economic stimulus measures, including $1,400 direct payments to most Americans.
Earlier this week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell sounded a positive note about the recovering U.S. economy. He told Congress there are economic signals that the United States will eventually make a robust and complete recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.