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Jobless claims tumbled to a nearly three-year low last week and signs grew that companies have squeezed every drop of toil out of their workers, offering hope that the pace of hiring will soon improve
"Often at this stage of the recovery, when these signals are in place, we see a surge in hiring," said John Ryding, an economist with RDQ Economics.
Employers probably added 175,000 new jobs in February, economists predict. That would mark an improvement from an anemic 36,000 in January when snowstorms and bad weather hurt job gains. The government releases the employment report for February on Friday.
At the same time, economists think the unemployment rate edged up to 9.1 percent in February as more jobseekers — perhaps feeling better about their prospects — stream into the labor market looking for work.