The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped last week, the latest evidence that the job market is strengthening.
The Labor Department says weekly unemployment benefit applications fell 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 359,000. That's the smallest number of applicants since April 2008. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, declined to 365,000.
The department also made its annual revisions to the past five years of unemployment benefit data. The revisions significantly increased the number of unemployment benefit applicants in recent months. But the downward trend remains intact.
When unemployment benefit applications drop consistently below 375,000, it usually signals that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate. The decline has coincided with the best three months of hiring in two years.
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