The number of American workers seeking unemployment aid fell by much more than expected in the latest week, a sign that the labor market continues to improve, albeit slowly.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that new jobless claims dropped a seasonally-adjusted 29,000 to 343,000, the lowest in two months and the second-lowest total this year. It was the fourth straight week that jobless claims have fallen.
Economists had expected a flat reading on new jobless claims.
The four week moving average, considered a more accurate gauge of the labor market’s health, fell 27,000 to 381,500.
That drop indicates that companies are cutting fewer jobs. But employers also need to step up hiring to rapidly push down the unemployment rate.
Slightly good news for the fourth quarter, hopefully 2013 will bring about an umemployment rate less than 6%.