(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell to a seasonally adjusted 340,000 last week, driving down the four-week average to its lowest level in five years. The drop is a positive sign ahead of today's report on February job growth.
Applications for benefits fell 7,000 in the week ended March 2, the Labor Department said Thursday. And the four-week average, a less-volatile measure, dropped to 348,750. That's the lowest since March 2008, just a few months into the Great Recession.
Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. When they fall, it suggests that companies are shedding fewer jobs and more hiring may follow.