A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed a much bigger than expected decline in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended November 28th.
The Labor Department said initial jobless claims dropped to 712,000, a decrease of 75,000 from the previous week's revised level of 787,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 775,000 from the 778,000 originally reported for the previous month.
The report said the less volatile four-week moving average also slipped to 739,500, a decrease of 11,250 from the previous week's revised average of 750,750.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also tumbled by 569,000 to 5.520 million in the week ended November 21st.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims slid to 6,194,250, a decrease of 425,500 from the previous week's revised average of 6,619,750.
"Continuing claims for regular benefits extended their decline, but that good news is countered by a rising number of individuals who have exhausted those benefits, evidence of more persistent labor market scarring," said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release a more closely watched report on the employment situation in the month of November.
Economists expect employment to increase by 481,000 jobs in November after jumping by 638,000 jobs in October. The unemployment rate is expected to edge down to 6.8 percent from 6.9 percent.