National

Sep 17, 2009 9:12 AM by Associated Press

New jobless claims last week: 545,000

The number of newly laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level since early July. 

The Labor Department says initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped to a seasonally adjusted 545,000 from an upwardly revised 557,000 the previous week.

Wall Street economists expected claims to rise by 5,000, according to Thomson Reuters.

The decline is the third in the past four weeks. The four-week average, which smooths out fluctuations, dropped 8,750 to 563,000.

That's still far above the 325,000 per week typical in a healthy economy. The number of people claiming benefits for more than a week rose by 129,000 to a seasonally adjusted 6.2 million.

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