Jobless claims at lowest level since ’08

The number of Americans filing initial jobless claims last week remained flat with the prior week and at the lowest level in four years, as the jobs market continues to improve.

The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of initial claims for the week ended Feb. 18 was 351,000 unchanged from the previous week, which was revised upward 3,000.

Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected 355,000 new jobless claims last week with a range of estimates between 330,000 and 363,000. Most economists believe initial claims lower than 400,000 indicate a strengthening employment situation. Claims have been lower than this threshold for most of the past four months.

The four-week moving average, which is considered a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, decreased by 7,000 claims to 359,000 from the prior week’s revised slightly 366,000.

The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate for the week ended Feb. 11 was unchanged at 2.7%, according to the Labor Department.

The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits for the week ended Feb. 4 fell to 7.5 million from 7.68 million the prior week.

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