Applications for US unemployment benefits plummet to 14-year low of 264,000

Economic Indicators Associated Press

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid dropped to the lowest level in 14 years last week, the latest signal that companies are cutting few workers and hiring could remain healthy.

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The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid fell 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 264,000, the lowest level since April 2000. Given that the U.S. population has grown considerably since then, the proportion of the U.S. workforce applying for benefits is even smaller. Applications are a proxy for layoffs.

The figures come as concerns about slowing global economic growth have roiled financial markets for the past week. A drop in U.S. retail sales, reported Wednesday, intensified the volatility.

The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, dropped 4,250 to 283,500, the lowest level since June 2000.