WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- The number of Americans initially applying for unemployment aid last week dived to a two-month low, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday, indicating the job market may have regained its lost momentum.
The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits hit the lowest level since July at 359,000 in the week ending Sept. 22, a decrease of 26,000 from the previous week's revised figure.
Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, which helps smooth out week-to-week volatility, decreased to 374,000, the first drop in six weeks.
Claims below 375,000 generally indicates a sustained drop in the unemployment rate. Economists say the figure brings hope for a labor market recovery.
The advance figure for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Sept. 15 was 3.271 million, down 4,000 from the prior week.
Hiring has cooled recently. In August, employers only added 96,000 jobs, far less than July's 141,000 new jobs, and the unemployment rate has been above 8 percent since February 2009. In addition, the U.S. economy only expanded at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the second quarter of this year, down from 2 percent in the first quarter.
Given the sluggish economic recovery and persistent high unemployment rate, the Federal Reserve announced earlier this month it would expand its holdings of mortgage debt until the labor market improved significantly.