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The U.S. Department of Labor’s weekly unemployment insurance claims report showed that the number of Americans filing for jobless benefits fell close to its lowest level in 4 1/2 years last week, an indication that the labor market is in recovery. As initial claims reflect weekly firings, they tend to decrease as job growth increases.
According to data released by the department on Thursday, for the week ended December 22, seasonally adjusted initial claims dropped to 350,000 from the previous week’s 362,000, matching the levels reported in the early days of the 2007-2009 recession. The drop in unemployment claims suggests that “the surge in layoffs since the recession may have run its course, although companies still are adding to their payrolls at a lackluster pace,” Reuters reported.
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In addition, the four-week moving average fell 11,250 to 356,750, its lowest level since March 2008.
The decrease in number of Americans that applied for jobless benefits also beat analysts’ estimates; a Bloomberg survey of economists forecast applications for jobless benefits to be 360,000.
As Jefferies Group economist Tom Simons told Bloomberg, these figures are proof that that the “labor market over the last several months has been pretty resilient given the overall pace of the rest of the economy.”
However, as President Barack Obama declared last Monday a holiday for federal workers, many states were unable to provide complete data. A Labor Department Official told Reuters that data for 19 states was estimated.
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