Jobless claims fell sharply last week despite severe winter storms that swept across Texas and other parts of the South, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
First-time filings for unemployment insurance totaled 730,000 for the week ended Feb. 20, well below the Dow Jones estimate of 845,000.
The total also represented a substantial decrease from the 841,000 the previous week, a number that was revised lower by 20,000.
Despite the decline to the lowest since Nov. 28, it was still well above anything the U.S. labor market had seen prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Continuing claims also fell, decreasing 101,000 to 4.42 million, the lowest since March 21 but also much higher than the pre-pandemic norm.