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Initial jobless claims have been below 300,000 for 100 weeks

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Mark Blinch/Reuters

Lukas Stewart, with a sign strapped to his back, uses a megaphone to attract the attention of potential employers as he hands out resumes on Bay Street in the financial district in Toronto, March 5, 2009.

Initial jobless claims fell more than expected.

Claims, which count the number of people who applied for unemployment insurance for the first time in the past week, dropped to 246,000.

Economists had forecast that claims ticked down to 250,000, down from the prior week’s reading of 259,000.

Claims have now been below 300,000 for 100 consecutive weeks.

Moreover, the four-week moving average came in at 248,000, an increase of 2,250 from the prior week’s revised average

Initial jobless claims are used as a real-time proxy for the pace of layoffs and the overall health of the labor market, since people usually file for benefits soon after they lose their jobs.

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