WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- First-time benefit claims for unemployment insurance fell by 5,000 in the week ending March 19, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.
In the week, 382,000 initial claims were filed, a slight improvement over the consensus forecast, which called for 1,000 more first-time claims than were reported.
During the week, the four-week rolling average of initial claims fell by 1,500 to 385,250.
The unemployment rate in February fell from 9 percent to 8.9 percent.
The Labor Department said the biggest increases in first-time jobless benefits claims for the week ending March 12 were reported by North Carolina 930 additional claims, Florida, which added 776, and Oregon, which added 582.
For the week ending March 12, the biggest decreases were reported by New York with a decline of 16,917, California with a decline of 5,490 and Pennsylvania, where initial claims fell by 1,778.