Mar. 7 - First-time claims for U.S. jobless benefits fell by 7,000 last week in a sign the job market is improving. Bobbi Rebell reports.
The Daily Digit is 7,000. That's how much the number of new jobless claims filed by Americans fell last week, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The applications for unemployment benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 340,000, declining for a second straight week. A better measure of labor market trends, the four-week moving average, also fell to the lowest level since March 2008 - pointing to some firming in underlying labor market conditions. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, says the labor market is improving. SOUNDBITE: MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Slowly, but steadily. Just to give you a bench mark, current monthly job growth is probably somewhere around 175,000 to 200,000. That's a lot of progress from where we were year ago, certainly two or three years ago. And if we are able to sustain it, that should allow for the unemployment start moving down in a more consistent way." But there may be a pause in the rate of job growth due to belt-tightening in Washington tied to the sequester that is gradually hitting the economy- and will have its real impact this spring and summer.