WASHINGTON - The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 330,000, signaling fewer layoffs and steady job growth.
The Labor Department says the less
volatile four-week average dropped 9,750 to 349,000.
A Labor spokesman said there was no
indication that snow and freezing weather around much of the country caused the
drop in applications.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs.
They appear to have stabilized near pre-recession levels after a period of
volatility around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. That suggests recent
job gains will continue.
Employers have added an average of 200,000 jobs a month from August through November. That's helped lower the unemployment rate to a five-year low of 7 percent.