U.S. jobless claims fall 17,000 last week

WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (BestGrowthStock) – New U.S. claims for
unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week and the
four-week moving average hovered at two-year lows, according to
a government report on Thursday that revived hopes a labor
market recovery was under way.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped
17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 421,000, the Labor Department
said.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to
425,000 from the previously reported 436,000. The government
revised the prior week’s figure up to 438,000.

A Labor Department official said there was nothing unusual
in the state level data, but noted that claims on a not
seasonally adjusted level recorded their biggest increase this
year, which was typical as claims tend to spike in the week
after the Thanksgiving holiday.

He also said the jump reflected seasonal layoffs in
industries such as agriculture and surface mining.

The four-week average of new jobless claims, considered a
better measure of underlying labor market trends, fell 4,000 to
427,500, the lowest since early August 2008.

A surprisingly small gain in employment last month blurred
the labor market picture and the bigger-than-expected drop in
new claims, and sustained drop in the four-week average, should
strengthen perceptions a durable recovery is under way.

Job creation is expected to receive a boost from a
compromise deal struck by the Obama administration and
Republican lawmakers on Monday to maintain all Bush-era tax
cuts through 2012, extend emergency unemployment benefits and
cut employee payroll taxes by 2 percentage points.

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular
state programs after an initial week of aid fell 191,000 to
4.09 million in the week ended Nov. 27 from 4.28 million the
prior week. Economists had expected so-called continuing claims
to dip to 4.25 million from a previously reported 4.27
million.

U.S. jobless claims fall 17,000 last week