The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid barely changed last week, while the average over the past month fell to a fresh five-year low. The decline in layoffs is helping strengthen the job market.
Weekly unemployment- benefit applications rose just 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 336,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Over the past four weeks, the average number of applications has dropped by 7,500 to 339,750. That’s the lowest since February 2008, just three months into the recession.
Economists pay close attention to the four-week average of applications because it can smooth out week-to-week fluctuations. The steady decline in unemployment claims signals that companies are laying off fewer workers.