A job seeker meets with a recruiter during the East Bay's HIREvent on Oct. 8, 2013 in Emeryville, Calif.
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Jobless claims fall to 339,000


As we ring in 2014, there is some good news on the jobless front.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits has fallen, suggesting labor market conditions are improving. A report by the Labor Department on Thursday showed jobless claims slipped by 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, demonstrating that 2013 ended on a positive note.

According to the Labor Department, the four-week average for new claims rose from 8,500 to 357,250 due to seasonal spikes around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“It’s shocking how stable the number is given all the volatility we have this time of the year from the seasonal adjustment and holiday retail hiring. So from that perspective, that’s a welcome sign,” Jacob Oubina, senior economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York, said.

In November, the unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 7 percent, and with December’s rate to be released on Friday, some economists are projecting it could fall even lower.