The number of people seeking unemployment benefits has fallen to its lowest since March of 2008, the Associated Press reported Thursday morning. The national economy added 243,000 jobs in January, lowering the employment rate to 8.3 percent, according to the Department of Labor.
A government report noted that weekly unemployment application numbers have fallen from 361,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000. These numbers mean that businesses are laying off fewer workers and that the hiring situation may be improving as the economy struggles to come back to life. This is the fifth straight week that unemployment claims have been down.
The AP says that the economy has added an average of 201,000 jobs per month for the past three months.
A pick-up in retail sales has followed a short holiday slump. While many economists predict that the economy may slow down again as manufacturers have less need to replenish their stores of goods for sale, there is confidence that the economy is gaining its footing, growing at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the last quarter, a full percentage point over the previous quarter.
Nearly 13 million Americans eligible for jobs are currently out of work.