The number of people who are seeking unemployment benefits fell to the lowest point in roughly four years last week, the latest sign that the job market in the U.S. is steadily improving, The Associated Press reported.
According to the news outlet, the Labor Department announced that weekly applications for unemployment benefits dropped by 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000. This marked the fourth drop in five weeks and represented the smallest number of claims since March 2008.
The AP reported that the average has fallen nearly 13 percent in the last year, and the consistent decline may indicate that companies are laying off fewer workers and hiring is beginning to pick up at an accelerated pace.
According to the news outlet, when the number of applications for unemployment consistently drop below 375,000, it usually signifies that hiring is strong enough to influence the unemployment rate in a positive way.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the economy is expected to improve this year, but only modestly, as potential headwinds like the European debt crisis may hinder its progress.