US jobless claims at lowest level in four years

February 17th, 2012 - 10:58 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 17 (IANS/EFE) The number of people filing applications for unemployment benefits fell last week by 13,000 to 348,000, their lowest level since March 2008, the US Labor Department said Thursday.

The rolling four-week average of unemployment claims, which is thought to better reflect underlying trends, dropped 1,750 to 365,000.

The recession that began in December 2007 and officially ended in June 2009 destroyed 8.4 million jobs in the US.

Economists see a weekly jobless claims figure of less than 400,000 as indicative of an improving labor market.

The ranks of people receiving state unemployment benefits declined by 100,000 to 3.43 million during the week that ended Feb 4, the Labor Department said.

State benefits generally run out after 26 weeks, but the worst economic slump since the Great Depression prompted lawmakers to approve federal emergency programmes that provide jobless benefits for up to 99 weeks.

For the week ending Jan 28, the number of people getting state or federal unemployment benefits climbed by 18,304 to 7.68 million.

The US unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percent in January to 8.3 percent - its lowest level since February 2009 - as the economy created 243,000 net new jobs.

Employers added an average of 201,000 new jobs per month in November-January.


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