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U.S. jobless claims hit 4-year low

July 12, 2012 at 9:47 AM

WASHINGTON, July 12 (UPI) -- The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment fell last week to the lowest level since March 2008, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics report said about 350,000 people filed for initial jobless claims in the week ended July 7, down 26,000 from the previous week. The size of the decrease was a surprise to economists who say the numbers may be distorted by the July 4th holiday and fewer auto factories shutting down for retooling, CNN reported.

In the week ending July 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted first-time claims was 350,000, a drop of 26,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 376,000. The 4-week moving average was 376,500, a decrease of 9,750 from the previous week's revised average of 386,250.

The total number of people claiming jobless benefits in all programs for the week ending June 23 was 5,874,035, an increase of 17,011 from the previous week.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending June 30 were in New York, Kentucky, Michigan, California and Oklahoma. The largest decreases were in Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maryland.

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