WASHINGTON – Seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims fell to 348,000 for the week ending March 17, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week's revised level of 353,000, originally reported as 351,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Continuing claims were down to 3.352 million for the week ending March 10, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week's revised level of 3.361 million, originally reported as 3.343 million.

The 348,000 initial claims were lower than the median 355,000 projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, and the lowest since Feb. 16, 2008. The 3.352 million of continuing claims were below the median economist estimate of 3.380 million, and were the fewest since August 9, 2008, when they numbered 3.337 million.

The four-week moving average for initial claims was 355,000, down 1,250 from the previous week's revised average.

The four-week moving average for continuing claims was 3.386 million, which represented a decrease of 13,000 from the preceding week's revised average of 3.399 million and the lowest since Aug. 23, 2008, when the average was 3.365 million.

Two states, Alaska and Minnesota, did not provide data. The Labor Department estimated the numbers for those states.

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