Jobless claims fall to nearly 3-year low

chart_jobless_claims.top.gif By Hibah Yousuf, 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 to a nearly 3-year low.

There were 368,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Feb. 26, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was down 20,000 from the week before, and the lowest since May 2008.

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected initial claims to rise to 400,000 in the latest report.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims, which aims to smooth out volatility, also improved, falling to 388,500 from the previous week's revised average of 401,250. That's the lowest since July 2008.

The weekly figure has hovered close to the 400,000 level since December, but are on a downward trajectory.

"The most positive thing seems to be that claims broke out of the 400,000 range, where they've been stuck for a while," said Dan Cook, chief executive officer of IG Markets. "Not to say we can't pop back up, but it seems like jobless claims are heading lower into the next range, around 350,000."

Still, Cook added that while the job market is headed in the right direction, it's recovering only at a snail's pace, with job creation at sluggish levels.

"We're still not out of the woods," he said. "The housing sector is in really rough shape, and even though corporations have a lot of cash on their balance sheets, they're not ready to let it go. Those two factors make it really difficult to add jobs."

The Labor Department is on tap to release the February jobs report Friday morning. Economists are expecting the economy added 190,000 jobs last month, up from just a gain of 50,000 in January.

The unemployment rate is expected to tick up to 9.2%, after falling to 9% in January.

Meanwhile, continuing claims -- which include people filing for the second week of benefits or more -- dropped by 59,000 to 3,774,000 in the week ended Feb. 19, the most recent week available. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,408.54 -16.31 -0.10%
Nasdaq 4,095.52 9.29 0.23%
S&P 500 1,864.85 2.54 0.14%
Treasuries 2.72 0.08 3.19%
Data as of 4:53am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.15 0.00 0.00%
Facebook Inc 58.94 0.00 0.00%
General Electric Co 26.56 0.00 0.00%
Cisco Systems Inc 23.19 -0.02 -0.09%
Micron Technology In... 23.91 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Apr 17
Sponsors

Sections

Spencer has been a supporting member of the "Good Morning America" cast for the past three years. More

Obamacare sign ups hit 8 million, though final enrollment remains to be seen. More

Office for iPad move is a symbolic victory for Nadella's Microsoft, but the company is still weighed down by many of the same old issues. More

Schwinn, Trek and Cannondale are all iconic American bicycle brands. But none of them are made in the United States. More

As Detroit moves closer to reaching a bankruptcy deal, retired civilian workers are poised to be left worse off than firemen and police officers. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.