Seasonally adjusted initial claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to 221,000 in the week ended March 16, from the previous week's upwardly revised level of 230,000, the U.S. Department of Labor reported.
The Econoday consensus estimate was 225,000.
The four-week moving average rose to 225,000 from an upwardly revised 224,000.
The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate, which measures the proportion of the labor force receiving unemployment benefits, came in at 1.2% for the week to March 9, unchanged from the prior week's rate. Insured unemployment declined to 1,750,000 from an upwardly revised 1,777,000 from the previous week.