The number of Americans filing for jobless claims last week remain close to four-year lows, signalling that the sluggish labour market is beginning to pick up in the United States.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits were unchanged last week, as the number of people applying was less than expected at 351,000, unchanged fro the previous number. Economists had forecast initial jobless claims to rise to 354,000.
The last two weekly readings have been the lowest since March 2008. The four-week moving average for new claims, a measure of labour market trends, fell 7,000 to 359,000 – also the lowest since March 2008.
This raises confidence that employers might be close to ending a long cycle of heavy layoffs, laying the ground for more hiring.
So far this year, the jobless rate has fallen sharply, dropping to 8.3 percent in January from 9.1 percent in August. Job gains have exceeded 200,000 for two straight months.