The number of applicants claiming unemployment benefits dropped unexpectedly last week, showing the growing strength in the US economy, a Wednesday report released by the US Labour Department revealed.
Jobless claims dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 280,000 for the week ended 20 December. This is the fourth straight week of decline in the number of applicants claiming unemployment benefits since 1 November.
The unemployment rate as of 8 November was 5.8 percent. So far, the economy has added 2.6 million workers on the payroll – the biggest addition since 1999.
"This is hinting at ongoing improvement in the labor market," Gennadiy Goldberg, a strategist at TD Securities USA LLC told Bloomberg, adding that some of the jobs lost in the period was just normal and "allows hiring to better translate into a decline in the unemployment rate."
"The labor market is tightening up. Any job losses are just normal frictional unemployment in a healthy growing economy," Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank was quoted by Reuters.
The Labour Department's report comes at the heels of another government report which showed that the US economy grew by 5 percent in the third quarter of 2014, its fastest rate in more than a decade.
Experts are positive about the upcoming year and believe that the New Year should post stronger growth.
"After four years of rocky recovery the U.S. economy is now hitting its stride with a notable acceleration in growth. Growth should remain good next year, with lower gasoline prices a big plus for consumers," Gus Faucher, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group was quoted as saying by The Courier Express.