National

Oct 15, 2009 8:40 AM by Associated Press

514,000 new jobless claims last week

The number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment insurance has fallen to the lowest level since early January, a sign the labor market is slowly improving.

The Labor Department says first-time claims for jobless benefits dropped to a seasonally-adjusted 514,000 from an upwardly revised 524,000 the previous week. The fifth decline in six weeks is below Wall Street economists' forecasts of 525,000, according to Thomson Reuters.

The four-week average, which smooths fluctuations, fell for the sixth straight time to 531,500. The tally of people continuing to claim benefits dropped by 75,000 to 5.99 million, its first time below 6 million since the week of March 28.

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