The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell by 27,000 last week, an indication that hiring could improve.
The Labor Department says weekly applications dropped to a seasonally adjusted 341,000, the lowest level in three weeks. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose to 352,500, after reaching a five-year low two weeks ago.
The huge snowstorm that hit the Northeast this weekend seems to have had little impact on the data. The report covers the week ended Feb. 9, before the storm hit.
A department spokesman said Connecticut was unable to report data to the federal government earlier this week because state offices were closed after the storm. Illinois also didn't provide data, so both states' figures were estimated by the Labor Department.