U.S. jobless claims fall unexpectedly

The number of newly unemployed workers filing claims for unemployment benefits fell by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 432,000 during the week ending Dec. 26, 2009, which is the lowest level since July 2008, according to USA Today. Economists were expecting new jobless claims to rise to 460,000.

The decrease is viewed as a sign that the job market is healing, raising hopes that the economy may soon begin creating jobs.

The four-week average dropped for the 17th straight week to 460,250, which is the lowest since September 2008. Additionally, the number of unemployed workers who continue to claim benefits dropped 57,000 to 4.9 million.

However, the continuing claims numbers do not include millions of people whose regular benefits are used up and now are receiving extended benefits. The number of people receiving extended benefits increased 200,000 to 4.8 million during the week ending Dec. 12, 2009, which partly is a result of another extension of benefits by Congress in November 2009.

In early December 2009, President Obama signed legislation that continues the extended benefits for this month and February. Still, up to a million additional people could run out of benefits in March if the emergency benefits aren't extended through the remainder of 2010.

Employers cut 11,000 jobs in November 2009, which is the fewest in more than a year. The unemployment rate has hit a 26-year high of 10 percent.

Date : 1/5/2010