The U.S. job market is getting stronger, according to economic studies published Thursday.
The government reported that the number of newly laid-off workers signing up for unemployment insurance fell by 17,000 last week to a nationwide total of 297,000. The number has now been lower than 300,000 for 11 out of the last 12 weeks. Economists said that is a relatively low number and might be evidence that hiring is continuing to pick up.
A survey of more than 800 financial executives who play key roles in running companies across the nation showed that more of them were confident the economy is improving. The study by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) also found that nearly one-fourth of firms were ready to hire, while just 13 percent were seeking new workers at this time last year.
AICPA member Jim Blake said, "The economy is doing much better, especially on the retail side."
"People are spending money," he added. "They are feeling a little bit more comfortable with their situation."
On Friday, government experts will publish the unemployment rate for November. Economists surveyed by the Bloomberg financial news service predicted that the jobless rate would remain at a six-year low of 5.8 percent and that the economy would have a net gain of 230,000 jobs.