Key bit:   The total number of people receiving unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in 44 years in March, the Department of Labor reported Thursday in more good news about the economy.

Altogether, 1.8 million people got unemployment insurance benefits toward the end of March, the smallest such seasonally-adjusted number since the end of December 1973, when the workforce was much smaller and there were fewer people to be laid off. Benefits are available for up to 26 weeks in most states.

As for new weekly jobless claims, Thursday’s report showed first-time applications rising 24,000 to 242,000. That was a bit of a miss: Forecasters had expected new jobless claims to rebound to 230,000 after falling to the lowest level in 45 years the week before.

Rollbacks matter…

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