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Jobless claims jump 15,000 but stay below key 400,000 level

December 29, 2011 |  6:19 am


New York help wanted sign

The number of new people filing for jobless benefits last week increased by 15,000, but the total figure continued to remain below the key level of 400,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Overall, there were 381,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance in the week ending Dec. 24, reversing a downward trend this month. There were 404,000 initial claims the last week of November.

The average number of seasonally adjusted new claims over the past four weeks is 375,000, a decrease of 5,750 from the previous week's average of 380,750 and a promising sign for the economic recovery. , The four-week rolling average is considered a more stable indicator than the one-week figures. Economists say that weekly claims consistently below 400,000 are a sign of steady job growth.

The unemployment rate dropped to 8.6% in November. Economists expect that December's data, to be released Jan. 6, will show another decline.


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Economic growth revised down but jobless claims hit 44-month low

-- Jim Puzzanghera in Washington

Photo: A help-wanted sign in New York last week. Credit: Andrew Burton / Getty Images