WASHINGTON — The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in nearly a month, a hopeful sign for the labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 42,000 to a seasonally adjusted 338,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
While recent data on claims have been clouded by seasonal volatility around the winter holiday period, Thursday's report showed claims in a range that supports expectations for faster economic growth next year.
New jobless claims have trended higher since September and are now roughly where they were during the early days of the 2007-09 recession. Economists, however, say the level of claims is still consistent with job growth, and other labor market indicators have pointed to a strengthening labor market.