(Bloomberg) — Fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign the job market is making progress as the year ends.

Jobless claims dropped by 9,000 to 280,000 in the week ended Dec. 20, the fewest since early November, from 289,000 in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 47 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 290,000. No states estimated data and there was nothing unusual in the report, a spokesman said as the figures were released.

Rising demand is encouraging businesses to hold the line on dismissals and take on more workers. Better job prospects and cheaper fuel costs signal consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, will provide another boost to the expansion this quarter following growth from July through September that was the strongest in more than a decade.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.