WASHINGTON (AFP) - New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits fell last week to their lowest level in more than eight years, the Labour Department said on Thursday.
Initial jobless claims, fell by 1,000 to 287,000 in the week ending Oct 4. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 to 288,000.
Claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, have been trending downward as the jobs market improves. It was the fourth consecutive week that claims have come in below the 300,00 level.
The four-week moving average of claims last week fell by 7,250 to 287,750, the lowest number since early February 2006, the department noted. A year ago, the average stood at 328,500.
The unemployment rate fell to a six-year low of 5.9 percent in September and the economy added 248,000 jobs.
The solid run of job growth this year - an average of 227,000 jobs each month - brought the number of officially unemployed down to 9.3 million, the fewest since July 2008.
"As a share of payroll employment, claims are now very close to hitting a new low; the data begin in 1948," said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics in a research note.
"With the pace of firings exceptionally low, and surveys signalling robust hiring, we have to expect very strong payroll growth in Q4, at least."