Jobless Claims Hit 9-Month Low

Claims for unemployment benefits dropped to 381,000 last week, the lowest level in nine months, the Department of Labor announced today.

Economists had expected a smaller fall, to 395,000, Reuters said.

“This is a good report … adds to the sense that the job market continues to brighten, though very slowly,” economist Cary Leahey told Reuters.

The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week fluctuations, also dropped, to 396,250, or the lowest level since April.

The labor market may be slowly improving, but there’s a long way to go: experts generally say that claims must remain consistently below 400,000, and even closer to 350,000, before real job growth begins.