In a sign of further healing in the critical labor market, new U.S. jobless claims fell to 550,000 in the past week, the Labor Department reported on Sept. 10.
The seasonally adjusted number of claims fell by 26,000 in the week to September 5.
The figure for weekly claims was better than analyst expectations for 560,000.
The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, was 570,000, a decrease of 2,750 from the previous week's revised figure.
The insured unemployment rate was 4.6% for the week ending August 29, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week as the number of people receiving jobless benefits fell by 159,000 to 6,088,000.
The weekly report offers one of the most up-to-date snapshots of the job market, critical to economic momentum. The monthly report for August showed unemployment hitting a 26-year high of 9.7% with 216,000 jobs lost.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009