WASHINGTON — The job market is sending signs that it may be strengthening.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits has sunk to its lowest point in six years because few companies are laying anyone off anymore. A survey of service companies found that they added jobs last month at their fastest pace in six months. And more small businesses say they plan to hire than at any point since the recession began.

All of which is prompting some economists to forecast a healthier job gain in September than the economy has produced in recent months.