U.S. initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped for the fourth successive week, declining by 11,000 to 225,000 for the week ending Dec. 9 from the previous week's unrevised level of 236,000, the Department of Labor said.
The four-week moving average decreased to 234,750 from the unrevised average of 241,500 the previous week.
Claims procedures continue to be disrupted in the Virgin Islands months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused destruction in the Caribbean. The claims process in Puerto Rico has still not returned to normal, the department said.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate stood at 1.3% for the week ending Dec. 2, a 0.1-percentage-point decline from the previous week's unrevised rate. Meanwhile, insured unemployment declined to 1,886,000 from the previous week's revised level of 1,913,000.