New jobless claims fell to a four-year low, according to government data released Thursday, suggesting the dark days for U.S. workers might be abating.
First-time applications for unemployment benefits fell 6,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 357,000 — the lowest since April 2008, the Labor Department said Thursday, one day before the release of March’s employment report.
Even the less-volatile four-week average for jobless claims is down to 361,750, another four-year bottom.
Another source, Chicago consultancy Challenger Gray & Christmas, found U.S. employers announced 8.8 percent fewer job cuts last month than they did a year earlier. The 37,880 planned layoffs, the lowest since last May, are yet another indicator of job market improvement.
And at government agencies, worker reductions are down 86 percent year over year, though Challenger suggested the dip may be the result of an “eye of the storm” effect during an election year.
Telecommunications firms were hardest hit, with nearly half of the 4,089 announced cuts coming from T-Mobile’s effort to consolidate call centers. Many of the rest came from call center cuts from Verizon Wireless, Wells Fargo and television retailer QVC.