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Initial jobless claims fell back to a four-year low last week, a government report showed on Thursday, after new claims for unemployment benefits jumped more than initially thought in the week earlier.
New claims for state unemployment benefits dropped by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 351,000, the Labor Department reported today from Washington. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 365,000 from the previously reported 362,000. The four-week moving average — considered to be a more accurate measure of labor market trends — was unchanged at 355,750.
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As a general rule of thumb, new jobless claims consistently below the 400,000 mark from week to week indicate sustained growth in the labor market. The last three months have witnessed employment gains above 200,000. The jobless rate held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent in February.
The number of people still receiving benefits under state programs after an initial week of aid declined by 81,000 to 3.34 million in the week ended March 3 — the lowest since August 2008. But long-term unemployment remains a problem, with about 43 percent of the 12.8 million out-of-work Americans in February having been jobless for more than six months.
The number of Americans on emergency unemployment benefits fell by 53,415 to 2.88 million in the week ended February 25, the last week for which the data is available. A total of 7.42 million people were claiming unemployment benefits during that period under all programs, up 36,392 from the previous week.
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