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MW: Jobless claims drop 2,000 to 241,000
 
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — 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 they’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.
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