March 25 (UPI) -- Fewer than 700,000 workers in the United States have filed for new unemployment benefits, the Labor Department said Thursday -- which is the lowest weekly figure in more than a year.
The department said in its weekly report that 684,000 workers filed for initial jobless benefits last week, a decline of almost 100,000 claims from the week prior (781,000).
The decline was greater than most analysts expected and the new claims are the fewest for a single week since early March 2020, during the first stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday's report also said the national unemployment rate for last week was 2.7% and there were 3.9 million continuing claims, which lag initial claims by a week.
Analysts say the decline in cases reflects more recovery in the U.S. job market, which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell noted in their testimony in the Senate on Wednesday.
Last week, the Federal Reserve opted to leave key interest rates unchanged, believing the economy is not yet strong enough to support a rate hike.
A year in pandemic: How COVID-19 changed the world
January 31, 2020
National Institutes of Health official Dr. Anthony Fauci (C) speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar (L) announced that the United States is declaring the virus a public health emergency and issued a federal quarantine order of 14 days for 195 Americans. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo