Jobless claims decreased by 6,000 to 289,000 during, the fewest since early November, a Labor Department report shows. Claims have been below 300,000 for 13 of the past 14 weeks. Employers are hiring at the strongest pace since 1999, a sign of a tightening labor market that may put upward pressure on wage growth. The four-week average of jobless claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, declined to 298,750 from 299,500 the week before.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits dropped by 147,000 to 2.37 million in the week ending Dec. 6, erasing the previous week’s surge. Insured unemployment had jumped to 2.52 million in the period ending Nov. 29, which was the highest since August.
In that same period, the unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits decreased to 1.8 percent from 1.9 percent the prior week. Initial jobless claims, which reflect weekly firings, tend to decrease before job growth accelerates, and many companies cutting U.S. jobs now are doing it for business-specific purposes rather than out of economic concern.
U.S. employers have added 2.65 million workers to payrolls so far this year, which is the largest annual gain since 1999. At 5.8 percent, the jobless rate is the lowest since mid- 2008, and is quickly approaching the 5.2 percent to 5.5 percent that policy makers consider to be full employment.