March 2, 2012 by staff
Unemployment Claims, A seasonally adjusted 351,000 people sought unemployment aid, down from 353,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That matches the four-year low reached three weeks ago.
The improving numbers show that steadily fewer people are being laid off and suggest that some companies are stepping up hiring.
The four-week average of applications, which smooths out weekly fluctuations in the data, also fell last week, to 354,000. That’s also the lowest in four years.
Applications for unemployment aid have fallen steadily since the early fall and are now down nearly 15 percent since October. When applications drop consistently below 375,000, it usually signals that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.
John Ryding, an economist at RDQ Economics, said the drop in unemployment applications can be attributed to a “marked improvement in the pace of job creation.”
Economists expect another strong month of hiring for February, similar to the average net gain of about 200,000 jobs in each of the previous three months.
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