National News

Nov 12, 2009 12:07 PM

Jobless claims fall more than expected

WASHINGTON (AP) - New claims for unemployment insurance fall more than expected last week, evidence the job market is slowly healing as the economy recovers.

The Labor Department says first-time claims dropped to a seasonally adjusted 502,000 from an upwardly revised 514,000 the previous week. That's the fewest claims since the week ending Jan. 3, and below economists' estimates.

The four-week average, which smooths fluctuations, dropped to 519,750, the lowest in almost a year.

Economists closely watch initial claims as a gauge of the pace of layoffs. But claims can also provide a signal about the willingness of companies to hire, because laid-off workers able to find jobs are less likely to request benefits.

The number of people continuing to claim benefits dropped by 139,000 to 5.6 million, also below analysts' estimates.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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