WASHINGTON - The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits tumbled 23,000 last week to 298,000, nearly a six-year low that shows companies are laying off fewer workers.
The Labor Department says the less volatile four-week moving average declined 10,750 to 322,250.
Last week's jobless claims nearly matched a September figure, which was distorted by late reporting from California. When excluding the September report, last week's figures were the lowest since May 2007.
Applications have fallen seven of the past eight weeks, a hopeful sign for job growth at the end of the year. The decline has corresponded with stronger hiring in recent months.
Last week included the Thanksgiving holiday, which can present challenges for seasonal adjustments. But government officials say there were no special factors affecting the report.