There were 335,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, down 37,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reports.
That's the lowest total for any one week since January 2008.
In other good economic news, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development say there was a 12.1 percent gain in housing starts in December from November. Starts were up 36.9 percent from December 2011.
Construction was begun on an estimated 780,000 housing units last year. According to The Associated Press, it was "the best year since 2008."
Home construction is a closely watched economic indicator not only because of the jobs it creates in the building industry, but for its ripple effects on other parts of the economy — including the appliance, furniture and retail industries.