U.S. unemployment claims have dropped to the lowest level since April 2008, says a new report released by the Labor Department on Thursday. Experts say the new data is more proof that the job market and U.S. economy as a whole are showing continued signs of improvement.
Unemployment Claims Drop by 50,000
The number of new applications for unemployment benefits dropped to 352,000 last week, according to the Labor Department report. This 50,000 drop not only pushes new unemployment claims to the lowest level seen in nearly four years, but is also the largest drop seen by the government since Sept. 2005.
Economists polled by Reuters expected claims to drop, but only to about 385,000 claims. Last week’s claims data, which covered the survey period for January non-farm payrolls, was a marked improvement over the prior data which was revised up to 402,000.
The report also showed the number of unemployed workers still collecting benefits after an initial week dropped by 215,000 to 3.43 million. This is the lowest level seen since Sept. 2008.
Job Market on the Road to Recovery
Last week’s Labor Department report, in addition to recent data regarding a drop in the U.S. unemployment rate leaves many to think that the job market is moving toward recovery.
Earlier this month, the department announced that the unemployment rate for 2011 ended at 8.5 percent, which was not only a substantial fall from the 9 percent rate reported in November, but was said to be the lowest rate reported since Feb. 2009.
In the same report, the Labor Department shared that job creation in December was at 200,000 with a little boost from the transportation and warehousing sectors, as well as growth in the retail and hospitality industries.
Experts have predicted that the job market will continue to improve this year. Of course, the unemployment claims report this week from the department helps to boost those expectations. However, with millions still in need of work, there is plenty to do to not only boost the labor market, but the U.S. economy as a whole.