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US jobless claims fall sharply to 268,000

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New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits fell sharply last week, more evidence of a tightening labor market, official data showed Thursday.

Initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, fell by 20,000 to 268,000 in the week to March 28, the Labor Department said.

The four-week moving average for the often-volatile claims report fell to 285,500. A year ago, the average was 323,250.

On Friday the Labor Department’s official March jobs report is expected to show the economy added a strong 250,000 net new positions last month, compared with 288,000 in February, while the jobless rate should remain unchanged at 5.5 percent.


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