WASHINGTON (3/27/15)--Initial claims for unemployment fell by 9,000 to 282,000 for the week ending March 21, according to numbers released by the Department of Labor Thursday.
The drop, which pushes the decline over the last three weeks to 43,000, marks the third consecutive week claims have come in under 300,000 (
"This is welcome news as the February economic data have disappointed," said Ryan Sweet, Moody's analyst (
). "Our tracking estimate of first quarter GDP is only 1% at an annual rate."
The four-week moving average for jobless claims fell by 7,750 for the week to 297,000, the second decline in the last three weeks. A four-week moving average below 300,000 is historically rare, Sweet said.
Continuing claims, meanwhile, or those who filed for unemployment benefits for at least a second straight week, fell by 6,000 to 2.416 million, according to the numbers.
Though, the four-week moving average climbed by 3,000, leaving the possibility open that the unemployment rate could rise by the end of March, Moody's said.
The insured unemployment rate, at 1.8%, did not change during the week, and sits 0.3% down on a year-over-year basis.
"There are some temporary factors hurting growth this quarter, including weather and the West Coast port disruptions," Sweet said. "The good news is that claims suggest the economy has gained some momentum heading into the second quarter."