Jobless claims tumble 25,000 in latest week

WASHINGTON - Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a sign of the job market appears to be increasingly secure for workers.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid plunged 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dipped to 250,000.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have remained below 300,000, a level linked with job growth, for 109 weeks. That’s the longest such stretch since 1970, when the U.S. population was much smaller.

The consistently low level indicates that employers are retaining workers and possibly looking to hire.

The March employment report to be released Friday is expected to show employers added 178,000 jobs last month, according to a survey of economists by the data provider FactSet.