The unemployment rate is at its lowest level since January 2009, though economists said a factor in the rate is that some workers have fallen off the unemployment rolls and have given up looking for jobs.
The number of first-time unemployment claims in the United States fell to a four-year low last week. Weekly applications dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000, the U.S. Labor Department said. That's the fewest since April 2008.
The economy generated an average of 245,000 jobs from December to February, the largest spate of hiring since the recession ended in 2009.
In Wisconsin, the number of initial claims for unemployment benefits fell to 10,498 last week from 10,987 in the previous week, according to the Department of Workforce Development (DWD).
The DWD has notified 7,761 individuals collecting unemployment insurance under the federal Extended Benefits (EB) program that the program will be ending in Wisconsin after April 7, 2012, due to the continued improvement in the state’s unemployment rate.
The state’s three-month average seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 7.0 percent in February 2012, meaning the state of Wisconsin no longer meets the federally required threshold for the 13-week EB program. The last payable week of EB in Wisconsin is the week ending April 7, 2012. After that, the maximum number of weeks a claimant can collect UI benefits in Wisconsin will be 73 weeks instead of 86 weeks.