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New jobless claims dip last week

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By Chritopher S. Rugaber

WASHINGTON (AP) — New claims for unemployment benefits fell last week as layoffs ease and hiring slowly recovers.

The Labor Department said Thursday that first-time claims for jobless benefits dropped by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 442,000. That's below analysts' estimates of 450,000, according to Thomson Reuters.

But most of the drop resulted from a change in the calculations the department makes to seasonally adjust the data, a Labor Department analyst said. Excluding the effect of those adjustments, claims would have fallen by only 4,000.

The department updates its seasonal adjustment methods every year, and revises its data for the previous five years. Seasonal adjustment attempts to filter out expected changes in employment such as the layoff of temporary retail employees after the winter holidays. The goal of seasonally adjusted figures is to provide a more accurate picture of underlying economic trends.

Excluding seasonal adjustment, initial claims fell by more than 30,000 last week to 405,557.

The four-week average of claims, which smooths volatility, dropped by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 453,750, the department said, the lowest since September 2008, when the financial crisis intensified.


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