Nothing says "back to work" like ... holidays? Initial claims for unemployment benefits came in at 350,000 for last week--a 12,000 drop from the week before. This indicates a strengthening labor market and represents the lowest weekly figure since 2008. The number is down 8.9 percent from one year ago. Nineteen states sent in estimated data because the holiday affected data collection, so the figure may be revised upward next week. The four-week moving average, which helps smooth out inconsistencies in data collection was 356,750, down from last week’s figure of 368,000.
NINE TO FIVE John Moore / Getty Images