WASHINGTON (AP) - Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell slightly last week as the recovering economy moves closer to generating more hiring.
The Labor Department said new jobless benefit claims dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 439,000, nearly matching analysts' estimates. It's the fourth drop in five weeks.
The four-week average of claims, which smooths volatility, fell by nearly 7,000 to 447,250, the lowest total since the week of Sept. 13, 2008, just before Lehman Brothers collapsed and the financial crisis intensified.
The report comes a day before the Labor Department is scheduled to release the March employment report. Economists expect it will show the economy generated 190,000 jobs last month, the most in three years.