First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell in the week ended July 6th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report said initial jobless claims dropped to 209,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week's revised level of 222,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 223,000 from the 221,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the unexpected decrease, jobless claims dropped to their lowest level since hitting 193,000 in the week ended April 13th.
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also slipped to 219,250, a decrease of 3,250 from the previous week's revised average of 222,500.
Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, climbed by 27,000 to 1.723 million in the week ended June 29th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims also rose to 1,694,750, an increase of 5,750 from the previous week's revised average of 1,689,000.
Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing U.S. employment jumped by much more than expected in the month of June.
The report said employment surged up by 224,000 jobs in June after edging up by a downwardly revised 72,000 jobs in May.
Economists had expected employment to increase by about 160,000 jobs compared to the addition of 75,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
Despite the stronger than expected job growth, the unemployment rate inched up to 3.7 percent in June from 3.6 percent in May. The unemployment rate had been expected to hold steady.
The uptick in the unemployment rate reflected an increase in the size of the labor force, which expanded by 335,000 people compared to the 247,000-person jump in the household survey measure of employment.