WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- Initial claims for jobless benefits for the week ending March 1 fell by 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, the lowest level since November.
The Department of Labor weekly claims report suggests that companies are retaining more employees, even though a harsh winter threatened to slow down economic growth. The number of claims for unemployment benefits were less than the forecast of 335,000 made by analysts.
The number of continuing benefits claims -- those drawn by workers for more than a week -- also fell by 8,000 to 2,907,000 for the week ending Feb. 22.
Analysts will be closely watching Friday's hiring numbers -- analysts calculate that employers added 152,000 jobs in February -- which coupled with fewer layoffs could signal a recovery in the labor market. This could help pick up the economy, lethargic after unusually harsh winter weather, and also increase investor and consumer confidence.
At their January meeting, the Fed decided to cut the bond purchases by another $10 billion to $65 billion.
[Department of Labor]