(MENAFN - Saudi Press Agency) The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell to a four-year low last week, suggesting that the job market is improving further, the government said Thursday.
The Labor Department said weekly applications declined 6,000 to 357,000, which is the fewest since April 2008. The four-week average, which is a less volatile measure, fell to 361,750. That is also the lowest number in four years.
Applications have been steadily falling since last fall. The four-week average decreased 4 percent in the January-March quarter, following a drop of 8 percent in the final three months of 2011. Economists say that when unemployment benefit applications drop consistently below 375,000, it typically indicates that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.
The number of people receiving benefits fell to 7.1 million in the week ended March 17, according to the latest available data. That is roughly 100,000 fewer than the previous week. That figure includes about 3.3 million people receiving extended benefits under federal programs put in place during the recession.