Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Jobless claims fall to 391,000

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- In another sign that the job market is slowly recovering, the number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell last week.

There were 391,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Feb. 19, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was down 22,000 from the week before, and better than the 410,000 claims economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected.

The numbers point to the same trend economists have been speaking about for months: The job market is improving, but at a snails pace.

"It's clear that layoffs are trending down," said Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wells Fargo. "But there's been little evidence of hiring."

The weekly figure has hovered close to the 400,000 level since December, but is gradually heading lower overall. Economists look to the 4-week moving average to smooth out the volatility of week-to-week bumps.

The 4-week moving average fell to 402,000 from the previous week's revised average of 418,500.

While that's a sign of improvement, uprisings in the Middle East could halt the job market's progress, Vitner said.

"The situation in the Middle East is still intensifying," he said. "It affects the overall psychology of business, because we know higher energy prices lead to less economic growth, lower consumer spending and ultimately, cut into corporate earnings and hiring decisions."

Meanwhile, continuing claims -- which include people filing for the second week of benefits or more -- fell by 54,750 to 3,790,000 in the week ended Feb. 12, the most recent week available. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,463.82 7.47 0.04%
Nasdaq 5,174.59 19.61 0.38%
S&P 500 2,176.71 6.65 0.31%
Treasuries 1.48 -0.04 -2.38%
Data as of 12:09pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 12.76 0.05 0.39%
Bank of America Corp... 14.62 -0.06 -0.41%
Regions Financial Co... 9.22 0.06 0.66%
Facebook Inc 125.27 0.27 0.22%
Chesapeake Energy Co... 5.30 0.11 2.22%
Data as of 11:54am ET
Sponsors

Sections

ExxonMobil hasn't made this little money since 1999. It's a sign of how even the biggest oil companies are grappling with the new world of cheap oil. More

Hillary Clinton woke up Friday to bad news: the U.S. economy is slowing. It could make it harder for her to win in November. More

Sheryl Sandberg says she supports Hillary Clinton for president, because she would help close the gender gap, and because she's 'the most qualified candidate.' More

It's about to get harder for some luxury all-cash home buyers to hide their identity from the U.S. government. More