Fewer Americans are applying for unemployment benefits, lowest level in 14 years

Fewer Americans are applying for unemployment benefits, according to the Labor Department, as hiring steps up across the US.

Last week the number of applications for jobless aid dropped by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 291,000. The four-week average rose 1,750 to 287,500.

There has been a surge in hiring this year, with fewer companies laying off its employees.

The weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs, and it has dropped 16 percent over the past year – to the lowest levels in more than a decade.

This suggests that companies are feeling much more optimistic about the US economy and have decided to increase or keep their workforce strong.

Only 2.33 million Americans are receiving aid, a big drop compared to a couple of years ago and the lowest level since December 2000.

The unemployment rate in the US has dropped to 5.8 percent, a six year low, driven by steady job gains.

However, there are still 9 million Americans without employment, almost a third of whom have been without a job for over 6 months and aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits.

The rest are people who have recently started looking for work, such as college graduates, and those who have recently been laid off.

So far this year employers have added an average of 229,000 jobs, which would make 2014 the strongest year in hiring since 1999.

Last year employers added an average of 194,000 jobs.

There are still some problems in the American job landscape though. Over 7 million people working part-time would prefer to be employed full-time, up from 4.6 million before the economic crisis. As a result there are 2 million fewer people working full-time now than before the recession.

In addition, the average wage has barely increased over the past year, and are considered to be almost stagnant. In October average hourly pay rose 3 cents to $24.57 – narrowly ahead of inflation.