New data from the U.S. Labor Department indicates fewer Americans are applying for unemployment benefits.

Last week applications fell by 12 thousand, down to a seasonally adjusted total of 365 thousand.

Pat O’Keefe, Director of Economic Research at JH Cohn says we’re following a similar pattern here in Jersey.

He says while the number of new unemployment applications rose marginally  - 1-point-3 percent during the last week in August, this is a typical seasonal trend, and “what we’ve seen is a relatively low number of applications for benefits…the number of individuals collecting benefits has also fallen to a somewhat lower level than it was a couple of weeks ago, and over the next couple of months we should see a steady decline in the number of people who are receiving unemployment benefits.”

He calls the trend “a good news story for New Jersey.”

Unemployment benefit applications are used as a measure of the pace of layoffs. When they consistently fall below 375 thousand nationally, it suggests that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.