New applications for jobless benefits plunged in the United States last week to their lowest point in more than eight years.
The government's Labor Department said Thursday that 284,000 workers filed initial unemployment insurance claims, down 19,000 from the week before. It was the lowest total since February 2006, nearly two years before the country's steep recession led to millions of layoffs.
The sharp decrease in the number of jobless benefit claims is the latest indication the world's largest economy is steadily advancing and the labor market improving.
Hiring has strengthened in the United States, with more than 200,000 jobs added in each of the last five months, the longest run of such extensive job growth in 15 years. The country's unemployment rate has fallen to 6.1 percent, although more than nine million workers remain jobless.