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U.S. jobless claims hit three-year low


08:39, December 16, 2011

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- The number of Americans initially applying for unemployment aid last week dropped to the lowest level since May 2008, a positive sign for the outlook of the U.S. job market, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The department said that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits was 366,000 in the week ending Dec. 10, a sharp decrease of 19,000 from the previous week's revised figure.

Fewer than 375,000 people applying for aid consistently signals that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, which more closely watched claims figure, continued to dip to 387,750, the lowest level since July 2008.

The advance figure for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Dec. 3 was 3.603 million, an increase of 4,000 from one week earlier.

While there is more evidence for an improving labor market, few believe it will return to a normal level in the short term due to weak economic growth.

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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