The number of Americans making new claims for unemployment benefits has fallen more sharply than expected last week, reaching pre-recession levels and nearing a 14-year low.
Data released by the US Labor Department this afternoon showed that initial claims for state unemployment benefit had fallen 8,000 to 287,000 for the week ending September 27, on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected an increase, the newswire said.
That takes it near to the 14-year low reached in July, with claims below the rate they were when the US entered the global economic crisis in 2007.
The four-week moving average is now 294,750, a decrease of 4,250 from the previous week's revised average.
However it wasn't all good news - the previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 293,000 to 295,000.
The total number of people claiming benefits for the week ending September 13 stood at 2.17m, down nearly 50,000 on the previous week and nearly half of that for the same week in 2013, when it stood at just under four million.
The places with the most claims being made were Puerto Rico, Alaska and New Jersey.
On Friday, the US government will report on monthly employment for September. Reuters said economists expected companies to have increase the rate of hiring, adding 215,000 workers to their payrolls.