It seems that 2012 has brought with it plenty of positive economic news in the U.S. The stock market has been performing well and Congress recently came to a bi-partisan agreement regarding the extension of payroll tax cuts, Medicare assistance and unemployment benefits for millions of Americans. In addition to these gains, the Associated Press reports that applications for unemployment held steady last week, marking a four-week average that has dropped to 359,000 – the lowest point since March 2008.
This trend began back in October 2011 when the Department of Labor first began noticing a steady decline in jobless benefits. The average has fallen about 13.5 percent since that initial drop.
"The strength we've had in the last few months is continuing," RBS Securities Inc. economist Guy Berger told Bloomberg. "Barring any surprises, February looks like another good month for payroll growth."
Bloomberg also reports that Americans who have already begun collecting unemployment benefits dropped by 52,000 in the second week of February – putting the total number at 3.39 million jobless beneficiaries. However, this does not include those receiving extended federal aid.
These figures point to a domestic economy that's recovering slowly but steadily thanks to increased hiring and strong market performance.