Slightly fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, pushing the average number of applications in the past month to an eight-year low.
The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications fell 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 287,000 in the week ended Oct. 4. That is the fourth straight week that applications have been below 300,000, a clear sign of a job market on the mend.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs, which have fallen 9 percent in the past month. That suggests employers are keeping their workers, likely because they expect continued economic growth and may be contemplating more hires.
“With the pace of firings exceptionally low, and surveys signaling robust hiring, we have to expect very strong payroll growth” in the next several months, Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note to clients.
The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, dropped by 7,250 to 287,750, the lowest level of applications since February 2006, nearly two years before the Great Recession began.
Story compiled from Associated Press.