The Washington Post
Jobless claims drop, home-building surges
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, pointing to continued labor market strength, though financial markets turmoil is casting a shadow over the economy.
Other data Thursday also struck a fairly upbeat note on the economy, with home-building surging in February, potentially setting the stage for a spring housing market revival. Imported inflation pressures were subdued last month, but regional manufacturing activity remained depressed.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 192,000 for the week that ended March 11, the Labor Department said. The drop was the largest since July.
The number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid decreased 29,000 to 1.684 million during the week ending March 4.
The low continuing claims suggest some laid-off workers could be easily finding new work for now.
The battered housing market could be finding a floor. Singlefamily home-building increased 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 830,000 units last month, the Commerce Department reported.