Requests for jobless benefits drops
The number of U.S. residents applying for unemployment benefits dropped by 2,000 last week to 339,000 applicants.
That seasonally-adjusted figure is considered a sign that layoffs are staying low and hiring will remain steady for awhile, according to an Associated Press report.
The national job market has picked up in recent months, with employers adding an average of 200,000 jobs a month from August through November. That has helped lower the U.S. unemployment rate to 7 percent, a five-year low, according to the report.