Initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled 215,000, the lowest tally since the beginning of the year and fewer than Wall Street estimates, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for first-time filings to come in at 225,000 for the week ended Feb. 26.
A separate report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that nonfarm productivity rose 6.6% in the fourth quarter, slightly less than the estimate for 6.7%. However, unit labor costs rose 0.9%, well ahead of the expected 0.3%.
On jobless claims, last week’s total represented a decline of 18,000 from the previous week and was the lowest since Jan. 1.
Continuing claims, which run a week…