Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Jobless claims fall below 450,000

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Initial filings for unemployment insurance fell to the lowest level in nearly three months last week, an encouraging sign ahead of the government's highly anticipated monthly jobs report due Friday.

The number of first-time filers for unemployment benefits fell to 445,000 in the week ended Oct. 2, down 11,000 from the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The number was lower than economists' forecasts of 455,000, according to consensus estimates by Briefing.com, but it still fell in a range that analysts say points to weakness in the job market.

"It's a good data point for the week," said T.C. Robillard, a senior research analyst for Signal Hill Capital. "But, historically speaking, these are still relatively high levels for where we are in the recovery."

The last time initial claims ticked below 450,000 was during the week ended July 10.

But overall, the weekly number has been stuck in a tight range since last November, hovering in the mid to upper 400,000s and even ticking slightly above 500,000 in mid-August.

The most recent four-week moving average, which is calculated to smooth out volatility, was 455,750.

Economists say they're looking for initial claims to fall to 400,000 or lower before they can say a jobs recovery has made noteworthy progress.

Businesses have been sitting on the fence when it comes to hiring, as they face uncertainty about the Bush tax cuts expiring at the end of the year and increased costs from health care reform.

More than 4,460,000 Americans continued to file ongoing unemployment claims in the week ended Sept. 25, the most recent data available.

On Friday, Wall Street will turn its attention to the government's monthly jobs report. Economists polled by Briefing.com forecast the report to show the economy added no jobs in September, and that the unemployment rate ticked up to 9.7% from 9.6% in August. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 15,973.84 313.66 2.00%
Nasdaq 4,337.51 70.67 1.66%
S&P 500 1,864.78 35.70 1.95%
Treasuries 1.75 0.10 6.33%
Data as of 11:04am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 11.95 0.79 7.08%
General Electric Co 28.26 0.81 2.95%
Cisco Systems Inc 25.11 0.43 1.74%
Chesapeake Energy Co... 1.59 -0.19 -10.67%
Freeport-McMoRan Inc... 5.53 0.64 13.09%
Data as of Feb 12
Sponsors

Sections

Investors need someone they can bring home to mother instead of bad boys (or girls) that may make their heart beat faster. Boring beats bold in this market. Here are 10 dependable stocks we love. Southwest (ticker symbol: LUV) is one. More

Cheap oil and slow global growth may not be the only culprits of the global market turmoil. There's growing concern that central banks are spooking the markets too. More

Eastern Illinois University laid off 198 staff members this week, and the college president is blaming the state government. More