Thursday, March 1, 2012
The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to the lowest point in four years, a further sign that the U.S. job market is steadily improving.
The Labor Department says a seasonally adjusted 351,000 people sought unemployment aid, down from 353,000 the previous week. That matches the four-year low reached three weeks ago. It's the fewest since March 2008.
A four-week average of claims, which smooths out weekly fluctuations in the data, also fell last week, to 354,000. That's also the lowest figure in four years.
Applications have fallen steadily since October. The average has declined 14.6 percent since then. When applications drop consistently below 375,000, it usually signals that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.