WASHINGTON - The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 8,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 287,000, as the total number of Americans collecting benefits dropped to its lowest level in more than eight years.
The Labor Department says the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 4,250 to 294,750. Overall, 2.3 million people are receiving jobless aid. That's the fewest since June 2006, which predates the start of the Great Recession by 18 months.
The steady decline in people applying for benefits began at the end of April.
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.