The Department of Labor reported today that jobless claims (4-week average) fell last week to 386,250, the lowest level since the second week of July 2008, more than 2-1/2 years ago (see chart above). From the Associated Press:
"The four-week average for claims dropped to 386,250. That was the lowest level since July 2008, providing evidence that the job market is on a more solid footing. The benefits report showed that the number of people receiving regular unemployment benefits fell by 80,000 to 3.71 million. That was the lowest level since the week of Sept. 27, 2008.
Companies are finally hiring more after months of sluggish job creation. Employers added 192,000 jobs in February, the biggest gain in nearly a year. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent, the lowest point since April 2009.
Stronger job growth was a major reason the Federal Reserve this week offered its most optimistic assessment of the economy since the recession ended. Fed policymakers said the recovery was on "firmer footing" and the jobs market was improving gradually."