According to Labor Department (DoL) numbers, initial claims for unemployment ticked up slightly by 2,000 applications in the week ending March 16, 2013.
The four week moving average for the week of March 16 was 339,750, a decrease of 7,500 applications from the previous week's revised average of 347,250. That is the lowest it has been in over five years since February 2008, two months into the Great Recession.
Economists put more weight on the four-week moving average because it tends to painter a clearer picture than the more volatile week-to-week numbers.
Unemployment fell to a 7.7 percent low in February 2013. Hiring was also on the increase in the U.S. during that month, according to the Labor Department – the economy added a higher than expected 236,000 jobs. Construction added 48,000 new jobs during that time period, spurred by recent strengthening in the housing market.
"It's largely because of the construction sector that the U.S. has yet to recover all of the jobs lost in the Great Recession," said BMO Capitol Markets chief economist Sal Guatier, according to CNN. "As long as the housing recovery remains intact — and it should — we should see the construction sector lead a return to a healthier labor market."
The housing sector is predicted to remain strong through 2013 as prices rise and the Fed keeps interest rates low.