Washington • The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits slipped 1,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 298,000, a low level that signals employers are cutting few jobs and hiring is likely to remain strong.
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped to 299,750, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's just 6,000 higher than four weeks ago, when the average fell to the lowest level in more than eight years.
"The downward trend ... is now clear and strong," said Ian Shepherdson, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. Shepherdson forecasts that employers added 250,000 jobs this month.
Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When employers hold onto their workers, it suggests they are more confident in the economy and could step up hiring.