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Applications for U.S. jobless benefits fell by more than forecast last week to the lowest since early November as Covid-19 vaccinations accelerated and states eased more business restrictions.

Initial claims in regular state programs fell by 42,000 to 712,000 in the week ended March 6, Labor Department data showed Thursday. On an unadjusted basis, the claims decreased by 47,170 to 709,458. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey had called for 725,000 initial claims.

Continuing claims -- an approximation of the number of Americans filing for ongoing unemployment benefits -- declined by 193,000 to 4.14 million in the week ended Feb. 27. At the same time, claims in federal programs ballooned as of Feb. 20, including a more than one million surge in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program for self-employed and gig workers.