WASHINGTON — New jobless claims in the United States fell to the lowest levels since July 2008 last week, the Labor Department said.
Claims for unemployment benefits stood at 388,000 in the week ending December 25, down 34,000 from the previous week and below 400,000 for the first time since 2008.
Economists had expected claims to fall, but only to 416,000.
“The drop below 400,000 is quite remarkable and was not expected to occur for at least another month,” said analysts at Briefing.com.
But they expressed some wariness that the Christmas holidays could have had a temporary impact.
“The fact that the decline came during the week before Christmas, though, suggests many firms may have decided to hold off on firing due to the holiday.”
“It would not be much of a surprise to see the claims level spike back toward 420,000 within the next week or two.”
Still, after a steady downward trend in claims over recent months, experts remained optimistic that the jobs market had turned a corner.