April 4 (UPI) -- The number of people who filed for unemployment benefits last week was the lowest in 50 years, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.
Jobless claims reached 202,000 in the final week of March -- the fewest since Dec. 6, 1969. The mark was 10,000 fewer than the week before.
The numbers indicate continued strength in the employment market. Last month, the department said productivity among U.S. workers increased in the fourth quarter of 2018 at a greater pace than expected. Wednesday, ADP and Moody's projected job growth of 129,000 for March. Official monthly government figures arrive Friday and analysts expect them to show job growth of about 170,000.
The positive report Thursday coincided with another study that showed more than 60,000 U.S. workers were laid off in March, topping off the worst quarter for job cuts since 2015 and the worst first quarter in 10 years. The analysis by Challenger, Gary & Christmas said layoffs are up 35 percent over the same period a year ago. Many of the layoffs occurred last month and experts said some have not yet filed for unemployment.
Most of the layoffs for the first quarter of 2019 were seen in the retail sector, 46,000. In March alone, the auto industry saw 8,800 layoffs and the energy sector nearly 8,200.