WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that layoffs are dropping and companies may be stepping up hiring.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of people seeking benefits dipped by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 388,000 for the week that ended March 26. That's the second decline in three weeks.
Applications near 375,000 or below are consistent with a sustained increase in hiring. Applications peaked during the recession at 659,000.
The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose to 394,250. Still, that figure has dropped by 35,500, or 8 percent, in the past eight weeks.