Jobless Claims Drop to Four-Year Lows

In the week that ended March 31, jobless claims droppedto 357,000—the lowest they have been in four years, according to new numbers from the Labor Department. Pennsylvania posted the biggest drop in claims—1,956—while Texas posted the highest jump—4,185. The steady gains that have been happening since the fall are likely due to fewer layoffs and the strengthening of the labor market, as proved once again by last month's private-sector jobs numbers.

The private-sector hired 209,000 workers in March, according to the most recent report from payroll processor Automatic Data Processing Inc. and consulting firm Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC, adding up to about 2 million new workers in the past year. Economists predict that the government's nonfarm jobs numbers—scheduled to be released tomorrow by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (a more comprehensive jobs report than the one released today)—will show a growth of 203,000 jobs for March, and an unchanged unemployment rate of 8.3 percent.

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