WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) â€” The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits fell by 2,000 to 241,000 in mid-March, as layoffs remained near the lowest level in decades.
Economists polled by MarketWatch has expected initial jobless claims to total 240,000 in the seven days stretching from March 5 to March 11.
Two weeks ago, new claims had fallen to the lowest level since early 1973. And theyâ€™ve come under the key 300,000 threshold for 106 straight weeks, the second longest streak since the mid-1960s.
The four-week average of initial claims, meanwhile, rose by a scant 750 to 237,250, according to government data. The monthly average offers a more stable look at the short-term trend in layoffs.
In premarket trades, U.S. futures pointed to a higher opening for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.54%
Last week, the government reported the economy added 235,000 jobs in February, bringing the combined gain in the first two months of the year to nearly half a million. The unemployment rate dipped to 4.7% and stood near a nine-year low.
Continuing jobless claims declined by 30,000 to 2.03 million in the week ended March 5. These claims, reported with a one-week delay, reflect the number of people already collecting unemployment checks.