Claims for unemployment aid at a 14-year low by John Kell @FortuneMagazine October 23, 2014, 10:43 AM EDT E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons Initial jobless claims filed over the past month have hit their lowest average in more than 14 years, the latest sign of the labor market’s strength even as stocks have swung wildly in recent weeks. The four-week moving average for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 281,000, falling 3,000 from the prior week’s average and the lowest level reported since May 2000, according to the Labor Department. However, in the week ended Oct. 18, initial claims increased 17,000 from the previous week’s level, though the total of 283,000 was slightly less than what economists had projected. The labor market has been one of the economy’s strongest sectors of late, especially considering choppy growth after a harsh winter, an uneven recovery in the housing market, and pressure on retail sales that suggests consumers are still cautious about spending. But the U.S. economy has performed well enough this year to encourage employers to add jobs and issue fewer pink slips. The Federal Reserve and economists have been encouraged by the broad-based nature of those new jobs, though weak wage growth has been problematic and new jobs that are being created are more likely to be lower paying or part-time work.