New unemployment claims fall again in positive sign for job growth
The number of people who filed for unemployment benefits last week dropped again to 390,000, the lowest level since April, continuing a trend that bodes well for job growth.
The number of initial jobless claims was down 10,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 400,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The initial figure for two weeks ago was 397,000, but was revised upward.
Still, over the last month, the average weekly number of jobless claims is right at 400,000 -- a key figure that economists say indicates a decrease in the unemployment rate.
"The wheels of the economy are spinning fast enough to put Americans back to work," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in New York. "The unemployment rate could fall as much as one percentage point over the next year now if these claims data stick at this level."
The government data come after sluggish but steady job growth in October. The economy added 80,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 9% from 9.1% in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week.
The weekly unemployment claims report helped give a bit of a boost to the stock market Thursday amid continued concerns about the European debt crisis. The Dow Jones industrial average was up about 40 points in early trading after Wednesday's big sell off.
-- Jim Puzzanghera in Washington
Photo: People line up at a job fair in San Francisco on Wednesday. Credit: Getty Images