unemployment benefits claims dropThe number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dipped last week to a two-month low, a sign the labor market continues to strengthen. Jobless claims decreased by 36,000 to 280,000 for the week ending September 13. Those already collecting unemployment benefits fell to a more than seven-year low.

Companies are retaining workers as stronger household and corporate demand fuels order growth. Fewer firings and more job gains represent a labor market that has “improved somewhat further,” even as other indicators point to persistent slack, Federal Reserve policy makers said yesterday.

Unemployment benefits claims for that week were the lowest since 279,000 in mid-July and the second-lowest since 2000. The prior week’s claims were revised from an initial reading of 315,000. The four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, decreased to 299,500 from 304,250 the week before.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits dropped by 63,000 to 2.43 million in the week ended Sept. 6, the lowest since May 2007. In that same period, the unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits fell to 1.8 percent from a revised 1.9 percent the prior week, the report showed. The Federal Reserve yesterday maintained a commitment to keep interest rates near zero for a “considerable time” after asset purchases are completed, saying the economy is expanding at a moderate pace and inflation is below its goal.

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