Number of people receiving unemployment benefits running at 44-year lows

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is running at the lowest level in 44 years, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.
Altogether, 1.88 million people were receiving jobless benefits at the end of March. That was low enough to sent the monthly average for such claims down to 1.85 million, the lowest such mark since January of 1974, when the total workforce was much smaller.
Unemployment benefits are available for up to 26 weeks in most states. During the worst of the recession, as many as 6.5 million workers were getting unemployment insurance.

As for new claims for unemployment benefits, they dropped by 9,000 to 233,000 in the first week of April, according to Thursday's report.
That was about in line with the roughly 230,000 new jobless claims forecasters expected.
Low jobless claims are a good sign for the economy. They suggest that layoffs are rare. In recent months, the near-record-low numbers of claims have provided the strongest signal that the recovery is headed toward more growth and more job creation, not yet petering out.
Economists calculate that any number of new claims, adjusted for seasonal variations, below the 300,000 mark suggests that unemployment is falling. It's been more than three years since that level has been hit.
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