WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 315,000, its lowest level in three months. It was the second straight decline, and it added to evidence that the job market is picking up after a winter slump.
According to the Labor Department, the four-week average of applications, a less volatile figure, fell 6,250 to 330,500, the lowest point since early December.
Applications are a rough proxy for layoffs. The declines indicate that most companies are confident enough about consumer demand to avoid layoffs.
Employers are also hiring more after harsh winter weather depressed job gains in January and December, the government said last week. The economy gained 175,000 jobs last month, up from just 129,000 in January and only 84,000 in December.