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US claims for jobless benefits decrease

THE number of newly laid off American workers filing initial claims for jobless benefits last week fell to the lowest level since early January, largely due to changes in the timing of auto industry layoffs.

Continuing claims, meanwhile, unexpectedly jumped to a record-high. While layoffs are slowing, unemployed workers are having a difficult time finding new jobs. The US unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent last month and is expected to top 10 percent by the end of this year.

New claims for unemployment insurance plummeted 52,000 to 565,000, the Labor Department said yesterday. That's below analysts' expectations of 605,000, according to Thomson Reuters. The last time new claims were below 600,000 was the week of January 24.

The drop resulted partly from technical factors, a department analyst said. Auto layoffs that normally take place in early July, as factories are retooled to build the next year's models, occurred in the spring instead as General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC implemented sweeping restructuring plans.

The non-seasonally adjusted figure increased by about 17,000 in the period to 577,506 initial claims.


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