Fewer workers than forecast filed claims for U.S. jobless benefits last week, a sign the labor market is starting to improve.
Applications for unemployment insurance payments rose by 2,000 to 439,000 in the week ended Nov. 13, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The total number of people collecting unemployment insurance dropped to the lowest level in two years, while those receiving extended payments climbed.
Companies are slowing firings and beginning to pick up the pace of hiring, key to bringing down unemployment from near 10 percent and boosting consumer confidence and spending. Citing a "slow" recovery in employment and output, the Federal Reserve on Nov. 3 announced it would purchase $600 billion in Treasuries through June.