The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits fell by 12,000 last week, to 367,000 from 379,000 the week before, the Employment and Training Administration just reported.
The agency also said that "the 4-week moving average was 375,750, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised average of 377,750."
According to The Associated Press, "when applications stay consistently below 375,000, it usually signals that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate." At 367,000, claims are around the lowest they've been since mid-2008.
Bloomberg News adds that:
"Companies are slowing the pace of firing as the world's largest economy picks up, a necessary step toward bigger gains in employment. Economists forecast a Labor Department report tomorrow may show employers boosted payrolls in January and the jobless rate held at an almost three-year low."
That January employment report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobless rate was 8.5 percent in December.