Jobless claims decline

Number of Americans applying for unemployment insurance is below economists' forecasts.

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By Lara Moscrip, CNNMoney.com contributing writer

What should be at the top of the next president's economic agenda?
  • Solving the credit crunch
  • Creating new jobs
  • Reducing the deficit
  • Halting the housing meltdown
  • Cutting taxes

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The number of out-of-work Americans filing new claims for unemployment insurance last week fell more than expected, according to a government report released Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that initial filings for state jobless benefits decreased by 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 461,000 in the week ended Oct. 11. For the week prior, initial claims were revised down by 1,000 to 477,000.

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected the number to decline to 470,000.

Two weeks prior, unemployment claims spiked to 499,000, the highest level recorded since the 517,000 claims filed in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Despite fewer jobless claims from hurricane-affected areas in Texas and Louisiana, the four-week moving average rose by 750 to 483,250. The measure tends to smooth fluctuations in the data and a level at or above 400,000 was present throughout the last two recessions.

The number of American workers collecting benefits for more than one week jumped by 40,000 to 3,711,000, the highest level in more than five years. The four-week moving average jumped 65,000 to 3,632,000 from the previous week.

Layoffs in the automobile industry caused unemployment filings to spike in Ohio and Michigan. California and Florida reported a high number of layoffs in the service industry.

This week, soft drink maker PepsiCo (PEP, Fortune 500) said it plans to cut 3,300 jobs, Barclays PLC announced it will cut about 3,000 jobs, General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) will close plants in Michigan and Wisconsin, affecting about 2,500 jobs, and Micron Technology Inc (MU, Fortune 500). reported it will close a factory and cut about 15% of its work force.

The Labor Department reported that the U.S. economy lost 159,000 jobs in September, the ninth straight month of losses in a year that has seen 760,000 jobs disappear so far. Last month, the unemployment rate remained unchanged from the prior month at 6.1%. To top of page

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