Jobless Claims Decline
By JOSH MITCHELL And TOM BARKLEY
The number of Americans applying for initial unemployment benefits fell to a four-year low last week, a fresh sign of strength in the labor market.
Initial jobless claims fell by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000 in the week ended March 17, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week moving average of new claims — a more-reliable measure because it smooths out week-to-week volatility — slipped to 355,000.
The figure beat economists’ expectations that initial claims would rise by 4,000.
A drop in jobless claims typically means that fewer employers are resorting to layoffs, and a sign of strength that could also mean some employers are hiring.
Nonfarm payrolls grew by 227,000 in February and the economy has added an average 245,000 jobs over the past three months, according to Labor data released this month. The unemployment rate remained high at 8.3%.
Thursday’s report showed the number of continuing unemployment benefit claims — those drawn by workers for more than a week — fell by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3,352,000 in the week ended March 10. Continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag.
he number of workers requesting unemployment insurance was equivalent to 2.6% of employed workers paying into the system in the week ended March 10 — a decline of a tenth of percentage point.