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U.S. jobless claims near 44-year-low

Staff Writer |
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to near a 44-year-low last week, pointing to further tightening of the labor market even as economic growth appears to have remained moderate in the first quarter.

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Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 223,000 for the week ended February 25, the lowest level since March 1973, the Labor Department said.[break]

Data for the prior week was revised to show 2,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.

It was the 104th straight week that claims remained below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labor market.

That is the longest stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller. It is now at or close to full employment, with an unemployment rate of 4.8 percent.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week's claims data. Only claims for Oklahoma were estimated.

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