March 29, 2007 -- New claims for unemployment benefits dropped by 10,000 to 308,000 last week, the third consecutive week of declines, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The national insured unemployment rate in the week ending March 17 was unchanged from the previous week at 1.9 percent, with 2.527 million people filing jobless claims, the report said.

The largest decreases in new claims last week were in California, Kentucky, and North Carolina, while the largest increases were in Mississippi, Ohio, and Alabama, the report said.

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