U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Fall to Lowest Level Since January

New claims dropped to 512,000 for week ended Oct. 31

Initial claims for U.S. unemployment insurance benefits fell more than most economists expected last week, official data showed on Nov. 5. New claims for jobless benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 512,000 during the week ended October 31, the Labor Department said.

The number was nearly 4% below the average economist forecast of 522,000, and was the first decline following two weeks of increases.

The Labor Department revised upward the claims number for the previous week, to 532,000 from 530,000.

The latest initial claims reading supported a trend of slowing job losses since a March peak and was the lowest level since January 3, when initial claims stood at 488,000.

The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, was 523,750, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's revised average of 526.750.

The total number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits fell. Claims for insured unemployment during the week ended October 24 was 5.749 million, a decrease of 68,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 5.817 million. The unemployment rate was 4.4% for that week, unchanged from the unrevised reading for the prior week.

Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed has increased by 7.6 million to 15.1 million, according to the latest official data.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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