A new report says the number of Americans applying for unemployment insurance benefits fell by more than 20,000 last week to 340,000, which analysts say indicates solid job growth and an expanding economy.
‘‘The underlying story in jobless claims continues to be one of gradual improvement,’’ said Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas, according to the AP.
The Labor Department on Thursday expressed optimism about what the numbers mean for the overall strength of the economy.
“Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs,” the AP said in its report. “The decline in claims has coincided with steady job growth over the past six months. Since November, employers have added an average 208,000 jobs a month. That’s up from just 138,000 jobs a month during the previous six months.”
The Department of Labor’s Office Employment and Training’s seasonally adjusted and unadjusted data offer similar economic outlook.
“The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3 percent for the week ending May 11, unchanged from the prior week’s revised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 11 was 2,912,000, a decrease of 112,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,024,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,995,250, a decrease of 23,750 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,019,000.”
According to Bloomberg News, the report is evidence the job market is “sustaining recent gains.”