Unemployment Claims Fall for 4th Time In 5 Weeks

Published by: Mike Goldman on 3rd Mar 2011 | View all blogs by Mike Goldman
Unemployment Claims Fall for 4th Time In 5 Weeks

The US Labor Department released its weekly report on the nation's job market Thursday, showing that initial jobless claims fell to their lowest level since May 2008 last week, indicating the overall job market may be improving.  Initial applications for benefits fell 20,000, the report showed, to 368,000 for the week ended February 26th.  Economists had forecast claims would rise to 395,000 in a recent Bloomberg News survey.  The total number of Americans receiving benefits, meanwhile, fell to the lowest level reported since October 2008.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke this week told Congress that the recent downward trend in initial claims is one of the biggest reasons for an optimistic view of the economy moving forward.  Companies expanded payrolls by 200,000 in February, even though the nation's jobless rate edged up to 9.1 percent.

Projections of jobless claims ranged from 375,000 to 405,000 from the 47 economists who responded to the Bloomberg poll.  Initial claims have now fallen in four out of the last five weeks.  The four-week moving average of claims, a measure designed to smooth out seasonal volatility, fell to 388,500 from 401,250.  It's the lowest the gauge has been since July 2008 and the first time it has dropped below 400,000 since then.

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