Americans appear to have used some of their stimulus cash at retail outlets last month, as sales nationwide surged by an explosive 10 percent, according to government figures Thursday.

The Commerce Department said retail sales were up 9.8 percent for the month of March. The dramatic rise was the best monthly gain since last May (18.3 percent).

Sporting goods (23.5 percent), clothing (18.3 percent) and motor vehicle parts and dealers (15.1 percent) saw the greatest increases, the report said. Bars and restaurants saw a 13.4-percent increase in spending as many states loosened restrictions for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) last month.

Many economists expected March sales to increase about 6 percent.

Meanwhile Thursday, the Labor Department said 576,000 U.S. workers filed new unemployment claims last week, a decline of 193,000 from the previous week.

The new weekly figure is the lowest since March 2020. The four-week moving average declined to 683,000.

The unemployment rate for the most recent week available, ending April 3, was 2.7 percent, the labor report said.

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