U.S. jobless claims down 22,000 last week

09:19, July 15, 2011      

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The number of Americans initially applying for unemployment aid continued to decline last week after hitting a seven-week low a week earlier, an encouraging sign for the U.S. job market, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday.

The Labor Department said that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits was 405,000 in the week ending July 9, a decrease of 22,000 from the prior week's revised figure.

The fresh figure was the lowest level in almost three months but still remained elevated relatively. Applications have been above 400,000 for 14th consecutive week, signaling the labor market will take time to heal.

Fewer than 425,000 people applying for aid is consistent with modest job growth, but the number of jobless claims will have to fall to 375,000 or below to signal a sustained drop in the unemployment rate.

However, about 11,500 applications in Minnesota were from state employees temporarily laid off due to the state government shutdown, the department noted.

Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, which more closely watched claims figure, also fell slightly to 423,250 from the previous week.

The advance figure for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending July 2 was 3.727 million, an increase of 15,000 from one week earlier.

The U.S. economy growth has slowed in recent months, dragging down the labor market's recovery, and the unemployment rate in June also rose to 9.2 percent.

The weekly figures of jobless benefits application reflect the level of layoffs and indicate real-time condition of the American job market.

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