The number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in more than eight years, the Labor Department reported Thursday, with just 2.3 million people collecting aid. The last time so few Americans received jobless benefits was June 2006, a year and a half before the start of the Great Recession.
The volume of new applications for unemployment benefits also dropped by 8,000 last week, falling to 287,000, seasonally adjusted. The decrease continues a steady reduction in the number of people applying for aid, which has been declining since April, and reflects a shrinking number of layoffs.
The numbers were stronger than expected, reinforcing a new report by job-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas indicating employers are currently planning fewer layoffs than at any other time in the last 14 years. If current trends continue, 2014 could have the lowest number of expected job cuts since 1997, CNBC reports.
The report reflects the continued recovery of the U.S. economy and labor market. But not all numbers are looking as rosy: Consumer confidence fell sharply in September after heating up over the summer, which could also mean a hit to this month’s jobs numbers, which will be released on Friday.
Additional reporting by Suzy Khimm.