Unemployment applications dip to a 4-year low

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

The Labor Department says the number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to the lowest point in four year. It is the latest sign showing improving in the U.S. job market.

New claims stood at 351,000, a decline of 2,000 from the previous week. 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.

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.

The economy added 243,000 net jobs in January, the most in nine months. The unemployment rate dropped for the fifth straight month, to 8.3 percent, the lowest in nearly three years.

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