National

Dec 17, 2009 10:00 AM by Associated Press

New jobless claims post increase

The number of newly laid off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits rose last week as the recovery of the nation's battered labor market proceeds in fits and starts.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of new jobless claims rose to 480,000 last week, up 7,000 from the previous week. That was worse than economists had expected.

The four-week average for claims, which smooths out fluctuations, did fall, dipping to 467,500, the 15th straight decline, viewed as an encouraging sign that the labor market is gradually improving.

The four-week average is now at its lowest point since late September 2008, the period when the financial crisis was hitting with full force.

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