WASHINGTON (December 13, 2012)--Companies don't appear to be laying off workers in anticipation of the possibility of a plunge off the fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts that are due to kick in after the first of the year.
The government said Thursday the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply for a fourth straight week last week, a sign that the job market may be improving.
Applications fell 29,000 to a seasonally adjusted 343,000, the lowest total in two months.
Economist Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics said concerns about the "fiscal cliff" aren't bringing any "significant weakening in the labor market."
Applications had spiked five weeks ago because of Superstorm Sandy, but the storm's impact has now faded.
The storm had little effect on overall hiring in November.
The government said last week that employers added 146,000 jobs last month.