Monthly jobless claims fall to 14-year low

The monthly average for first-time applications for jobless benefits fell to a 14-year low last week, a sign that the labor market is strengthening. 

Claims for unemployment insurance fell 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 278,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

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The four-week moving average, a better indicator of the labor market's health, was 279,000, a decrease of 2,250 from the previous week's revised average — the lowest level since April 29, 2000.

The falling figures are a sign that employers are laying off fewer workers and suggest a broader improvement in the economy that is expected to lead to stronger growth heading into next year.

The government's October jobs report is due out on Friday, with estimates ranging from 230,000 to 250,000.

The economy added 248,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent.

A separate ADP report released on Wednesday showed that private-sector employers added 230,000 workers to their payrolls in October.

While the labor market continues to add jobs, wages remain relatively stagnant.

Consumers are starting to feel better about the economy but they will need to get some raises in their paychecks before they commit to spending more in the growing economy.