Easing of layoffs indicates further improvement in the labor market
Initial claims for unemployment benefits last week decreased by 7,000 to a preliminary reading of 340,000, the lowest level since the week ended Jan. 19. The four-week moving average, a less volatile number that flattens out week-to-week fluctuations in the data, was 348,750, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 355,750, and a five-year low, the Labor Department announced Thursday. The advance number of Americans filing for continuing unemployment claims during the week ending Feb. 23 was 3,094,000, an increase of 3,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,091,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,121,750, a decrease of 37,500 from the prior week. States reported 1,780,626 persons claiming emergency unemployment compensation in the week ending Feb. 16, a decrease of 362,275 from the previous week. There were 7,387,649 claimants in the comparable week in 2012. The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending Feb. 16 was 5,401,893, a decrease of 362,275 from the previous week. There were 7,387,649 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week of 2012. The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Feb. 23 were in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.. The largest decreases were in California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas.