US jobless claims at three-year low
FEWER Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits over the past month than at any time in the past three years, a sign the US labour market is on the mend heading into the new year.
The four-week moving average for claims, a less volatile measure than the weekly figures, dropped to 375,000 last week, the lowest level since June 2008, Labor Department figures showed yesterday in Washington. Applications rose for the first time in a month in the week ended December 24, climbing by a more-than- forecast 15,000 to 381,000.
The jump in claims last week may say more about their volatility during this time of year than about the state of the job market, according to economists like Eric Green. Their recent decline has stoked speculation the world's largest economy was on the cusp of showing bigger gains in employment.
"The labour market is improving," said Green, chief market economist at TD Securities in New York. "You should expect to see stronger payroll numbers going forward."
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits rose by 34,000 in the week ended December 17 to 3.6 million. Those figures do not include those receiving extended benefits in federal programs.