The number of initial jobless claims fell further last week to the lowest level in more than three years.
The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of actual initial claims for the week ended Dec. 17 declined by 4,000 to 364,000 from 368,000 the previous week, which was revised upward 2,000.
Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected 380,000 new jobless claims last week with a range of estimates between 365,000 and 390,000. Most economists believe weekly jobless claims lower than 400,000 indicate the economy is expanding and jobs growth is strengthening. Initial claims have come in lower than this threshold for most of the past two months.
The four-week moving average, which is considered a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, declined by 8,000 claims to 380,250 from the prior week’s 388,250, which was revised upward 1,000.
The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate for the week ended Dec. 10 slid to 2.8% from 2.9% the previous week, according to the Labor Department.
The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits for the week ended Dec. 3 declined to 7.15 million from about 7.45 million the prior week.