Jobless claims fall by 34,000 to lowest point since July 2008
Initial jobless claims fell considerably last week dropping to 388,000, which is the lowest point in two and a half years and well below most analysts' estimates. The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted figure of actual initial claims for the week ended Dec. 25 fell by 34,000 from the previous week's 422,000 that was revised upward by a few thousand. Weekly claims finally dipped lower than 400,000, which is the level most economists believe indicate the economy is expanding and jobs growth is strengthening. Analysts surveyed by Econoday expected jobless claims to come in at 415,000 with a range of estimates from 414,000 to 425,000. A Briefing.com survey projected new claims of 415,000 last week. The four-week moving average decreased by 12,500 to 414,000 claims from a revised average of 426,500. The moving average, which is considered a less volatile indicator than weekly claims, is also now at the lowest point in more than two years. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate rose to 3.3% for the week ended Dec. 18 from 3.2% the week prior. The total number of people receiving some sort of federal unemployment benefits was nearly 8.9 million for the week ended Dec. 4, according to the Labor Department. Write to Jason Philyaw.