Jobless Claims Fall to Lowest Level Since April 2008

Applications for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level since April 2008, the Labor Department reported today in Washington.

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Jobless claims fell by 50,000 to 352,000 in the week ended January 14. A Labor Department official said the sharp decrease reflects the usual volatility seen during the beginning of the year.

“Claims are always choppy around the start of a new year but there are simply very few industries left that still need to do any further labor cuts,” Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc., said before the report. “Workers are slowly being added as demand has started to pick up a bit.”

The Labor Department today revised the previous week’s jobless claims figure up from the 399,000 initially reported to 402,000.

Last week’s drop was the biggest since …

September 2005, when Hurricane Katrina temporarily caused a surge in benefits claims.

The four-week moving average, which gives a more accurate picture of employment trends, decreased to 379,000 last week from 382,500.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits, for two weeks or more, dropped by 215,000 in the week ended January 7 to 3.43 million. That figure does not include the number of Americans receiving extended benefits under federal programs.

The number of people who have used up their traditional benefits and are now collecting emergency and extended payments rose by about 105,200 to 3.56 million in the week ended December 31.

The unemployment rate among those eligible for benefits fell to 2.7 percent, the lowest since September 2008.

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