Jobless claims fall 12,000 to 215,000 and hit lowest level since 1973

Rapid hiring, low unemployment reflect strong labor market

America works: The U.S. unemployment rate is at a 17-year low and layoffs are near the lowest level in 50 years.

By Jeffry Bartash

The numbers: The rate of layoffs in the U.S. fell again in late March and dropped to the lowest level since 1973.

Initial U.S. jobless claims declined by 12,000 to 215,000 in the seven days ended March 24, the government said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast claims to total 230,000.

The more stable monthly average of claims dipped by 500 to 224,500.

The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, rose by 35,000 to 1.87 million.

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