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First-time unemployment claims fall

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The government added about 5,000 fewer newcomers to its unemployment benefit rolls last week.

Americans filing first-time unemployment claims fell to 382,000, in the week ended March 19, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was down from the previous week's revised 387,000.

"While a 5,000 decrease isn't a huge number, any move downward is very good news," said Jennifer Lee, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets. "At the end of the day, Americans need to have a job."

Initial claims often bump around from week to week, but overall, they've trended lower since the beginning of the year, pointing to improvement in the job market, albeit at a sluggish pace.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims, which smooths out volatility, is at its lowest level since 2008, after falling 1,500 to 385,250 from the previous week's revised average of 386,750.

The number of Americans filing for their second week of benefits or more dropped 2,000 to 3,721,000 in the week ended March 12, the most recent data available To top of page

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