Weekly Jobless Claims Fall to Lowest Level in 14 Years

Unemployment Benefits
Wilfredo Lee/APApplicants attend a job fair at Fontainebleau Miami Beach in Miami Beach, Fla., earlier this month.

By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell to a 14-year low last week, a positive signal for the labor market that could counter doubts over whether the economy is shifting into a higher gear.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 264,000, its lowest level since 2000, the Labor Department said Thursday.