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.
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