WASHINGTON — Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits declined last week to the lowest level in a month as the volatility typical during the year-end holidays waned.
Jobless claims fell by 2,000 to 339,000 in the period ending Dec. 28, Labor Department data showed Thursday in Washington. The median forecast of 26 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News Service called for 344,000 claims.
Firings probably will be limited this year as gains in business and consumer spending help the economy strengthen. Further healing in the labor market may depend on lawmakers’ progress in budget talks this month, which would support confidence and a willingness to add to staff.