The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, a sign the labor market may be tightening. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 287,000 in the week ended Sept. 27, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The total number is the lowest in more than eight years.
Claims have fallen steadily since the nation emerged from the 2007-09 recession and are currently lower than they were before the country's economic crisis began. "The numbers are so low now that it seems just a matter of time before we see a run of big gains" in monthly hiring figures, said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The recent decline suggests that employers are keeping their workers, likely because they expect continued economic growth and may be contemplating more hires.
-- Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.