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US Weekly Jobless Claims Fall to Lowest Level since May 2007

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New applications for jobless benefits fell to their lowest level in nearly seven years, adding further to the view the US labour market was progressing at a steady rate following the weather-related slowdown.

US jobless claims declined by 26,000 to 300,000 last week, the lowest level since May 2007, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate of economists called for jobless benefits to fall to 320,000 in the week ending April 5.

The four-week average for initial claims declined by 4,750 to 316,250.

Initial jobless claims are used to gauge weekly layoffs in the labour market. Jobless claims usually decline before job growth begins to pick up.

Continuing jobless claims decreased by 62,000 to 2.78 million in the final week of March, the lowest since January 2008. The insured unemployment rate decreased 0.1 percentage points to 2.2 percent, official data showed.

The US labour market gained considerable traction in February and March, according to the Labor Department. US employers added 192,000 payrolls in March, after a revised 197,000 increase the prior month. The jobless rate remained unchanged at 6.7 percent.

The latest jobless figures add further to the view the US labour market was stabilizing after an unusually harsh winter. However, economists warn the Easter weekend could make calculating weekly jobless claims more difficult due to seasonal adjustments. Nevertheless, weekly claims appear to be drifting downward, raising expectations payrolls will continue to gain traction.

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