The 4-week average of initial jobless claims fell by 3,750 to a 302,250 level that is more than 10,000 above the month-ago comparison.

The month-on-month comparison does not point to improvement for the March employment report.

Initial jobless claims fell by 36,000 in the March 7 week to 289,000.

Continuing claims, which are reported with a 1-week lag, are mixed, down 5,000 in data for the February 28 week to 2.418 million but with the 4-week average up 13,000 to 2.417 million.

The month-on-month comparison for the average is up 20,000, again not pointing to improvement for the labor market. The unemployment rate for insured workers is unchanged at a recovery low of 1.8%.

There are no special factors in today's report, one that, despite the welcome decline in initial claims, will not be building up expectations for another strong monthly jobs report.

Initial jobless claims rose 7,000 to a much higher-than-expected level of 320,000 in the February 28 week. The increase lifts the 4-week average by a steep 10,250 to 304,750. The average is trending roughly 5,000 higher than a month ago.