(CN) – The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in 49 years last week, indicating that companies are keeping employees despite fears of an impending economic slowdown.
There were 202,000 applications for jobless aid last week, the lowest number since December 1969 and a decrease of 10,000 from the week before.
It marks the second 49-year low so far this year. The 199,000 unemployment applications reported in mid-January was the lowest level since November 1969.
The more stable four-week average, which is considered a better measure of labor market trends because it smoothens out week-to-week volatility, dropped 4,000 to 213,500, according to a Labor Department report.
Unemployment applications are a proxy for layoffs because those benefits are only for people who lose a job through no fault of their own. Any figure below 300,000 indicates that hiring is healthy and employers are confident enough in future demand to keep their workers.
The jobs report for March is out Friday and is expected to show a rebound from the disappointing 20,000 new jobs in February. Economists predict about 179,000 positions were added in March.