The weekly measure of those applying for unemployment benefits is back to a steady decline, dropping 50,000 last week to 352,000 — its lowest level since April 2008. That's good news after the previous week, when seasonal jobs ended with the holiday season, pushing the number of unemployment claims up for the week. The four-week moving average, which economists see as a more realistic number because it smoothes out fluctuations from week to week, "was 379,000, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week's revised average of 382,500," according to the Labor Department. "A department spokesman cautioned that volatility at this time of year is common," the Associated Press reported. But generally, "when weekly applications fall consistently below 375,000, it usually signals that hiring is strong enough to push down the unemployment rate." So good job, labor market.
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