Unemployment claims dropped to a nine-month low last week, a sign that the labor market recovery is gaining steam in the U.S.

The government report released Thursday reveals notable declines in initial and continued employment claims, and the news was joined by a report that wholesale inventories in October jumped the highest in five months, signaling that businesses are also in a recovery mode with higher consumer demand.

Inventories grew 1.6%, the biggest jump since May. Also, a government report on Monday said that manufacturers increased inventories by 0.9% in October, showing they expect more business activity.

The recovery is picking up some momentum. We still have a long ways to go, but this is very consistent with a recovery that has shown a little bit more resilience in the second half of the year, said Paul Ballew, chief economist at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio, in an interview with Reuters.loy

Seasonally adjusted initial employment fell 23,000 to 381,000 claims, the U.S. Labor Department said. That figure beat economists expectations of 395,000. Also, seasonally adjusted continued claims fell by 174,000 to 3.58 million for the week ending Nov. 26 -- the lowest number since September 2008, the beginning of the financial crisis.

The good news follows a surprisingly strong November unemployment report, which showed America's jobless rate fell below nine percent, to its lowest mark in two-and-a-half years. November unemployment was 8.6 percent, dropping from 9.0 percent in October.