First time jobless claims over the last month in the U.S. fell to its lowest level since February 2006, well before the Great Recession.

The four-week average hit 293,500, according to the U.S. Labor Department, following news last week employers added 209,000 jobs in July, the sixth consecutive month of job gains of more than 200,000, the longest stretch since 1997. 

For the week ending Aug. 2 the figure was 289,000 for first time unemployment benefits claims, down 14,000 from the previous week.

Companies are clearly retaining their current employee base more readily with a low rate of layoffs, and taking on new employees as exemplified in the past several months of impressive nonfarm payrolls reports, according to Sterne Agee Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza.

“Why then is the Fed not cheering the improvements seen in the labor market and rapidly preparing for a removal of accommodation? The answer is quite simply complicated; because the traditional growth as shown by headline job creation is not translating into income gains nor increased capacity for household spending,” she said.

In fact, lack of wage growth is actually hindering the economy, according to The Hill

It points out that while workers saw a near 2% in their wages in the year ahead of the recession, the 12-year period starting in 2000 shows that median household incomes decreased 6.6 percent.