The number of people filing initial unemployment insurance claims fell 6,000 from last week, to an initial figure of 357,000, still their lowest since April, 2008. The revised figure for the week ending March 31 turned out to be 363,000, up from that week's initial figure of 359,000, so even with a drop of 6,000 we're still at April, 2008 levels.

The four-week moving average, which smooths out these kinds of week-to-week fluctuations, was 361,750, down 4,250 from the previous week's revised average of 366,000. All this number-crunching is building to Friday's release of the official monthly unemployment rate, which is expected to hold around its current 8.3 percent as the economy puts on a little more than 200,000 jobs. The human resource firm ADP estimated on Wednesday that private companies had added 209,000 jobs in March, which was lower than February's 230,000, but still pretty good.