New York (CNN Business)Another 730,000 American workers filed for first-time unemployment benefits, adjusted for seasonal swings, last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
That was far fewer than economists had predicted, and a massive 111,000-claim drop from the prior week's number of applications.
Despite the surprising drop, the labor market is still not close to being back on its feet nearly a year into the pandemic. For the past six months, weekly state unemployment claims have been below a million, but never fell lower 711,000 set in November.
On top of that, 451,402 people not eligible for regular state claims, such as the self-employed or gig workers, filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. This number is not seasonally adjusted.
Added together, first-time claims stood at 1.2 million without seasonal adjustments last week.
Continued claims for jobless benefits stood at 4.4 million in the week ended February 13, a slight decrease from the prior week.
For states, the long-term joblessness of so many people is a growing financial burden. As of Tuesday, some 19 states borrowed more than $50 billion from the federal government to pay out benefits, according to the US Treasury.
California has borrowed $19.5 billion, while New York has borrowed just under $10 billion. Texas has borrowed about $6.5 billion.
--Tami Luhby contributed to this story. This is a developing story. It will be updated.