The number of Americans filing for jobless benefits fell 42,000 in the week ended Dec. 21, though holiday-season fluctuations make the data hard to interpret, the Labor Department said.
Claims fell to 338,000 that week, beating the 345,000 average estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
“Companies have been holding on to workers and are now a getting a bit more active on hiring,” Omair Sharif, an economist at RBS Securities Inc., told Bloomberg.
Claims usually fluctuate around the holidays, which makes it hard to judge the true effect on the economy, Bloomberg said.
The number of people receiving continuing jobless benefits grew by 46,000 to 2.92 million in the week ended Dec. 14, Labor said in its Dec. 26 report. That figure is the largest since August.