The number of initial jobless claims in the United States declined to 860,000 last week, indicating a continued recovery in the labor market ravaged by the COVID-19 crisis, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

In the week ending Sept. 12, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits decreased by 33,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised level of 893,000, marking the fourth time in the past 26 weeks that the number has come below 1 million.

The four-week moving average, a method to iron out data volatility, decreased by 61,000 to 912,000, according to the report.

The number of people continuing to collect state unemployment benefits decreased by 916,000 to 12.6 million in the week ending Sept. 5, the report showed.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs — state and federal combined — for the week ending Aug. 29, however, increased 98,456 to 29.8 million, signaling a continued significant disruption in the labor market.

U.S. employers added 1.4 million jobs in August, and the unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 percent, according to earlier data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a virtual news conference Wednesday afternoon that the level of unemployment is probably 3 percent higher than the official data, considering those people who are misidentified as employed and the declined labor force participation.

The median projection for the unemployment rate is 7.6 percent at the end of this year, and 4 percent by the end of 2023, according to the Fed’s latest economic projections. It’s still above the historically low of 3.5 percent the country experienced before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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