Initial jobless claims fall to lowest level since April 2008

@CNNMoneyTech December 22, 2011: 8:56 AM ET
job-fair-line-jobless-claims.gi.top.jpg

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits dropped to their lowest level since April 2008, boosting optimism in the job market.

In a surprise drop, 364,000 people filed initial jobless claims in the week ended Dec. 17, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was a decrease of 4,000 from the prior week. Economists were expecting claims to rise to 380,000.

Last week, claims fell to their lowest level since May 2008, bringing hopes that the labor market could finally be improving meaningfully. A level below 400,000 often signals job growth strong enough to lower the unemployment rate, many economists say.

Meanwhile continuing claims -- which include Americans filing for their second week of claims or more -- fell 79,000 to 3,546,000 in the week ended Dec. 10.

Unemployment benefits extension: What's at stake

In November, the unemployment rate unexpectedly plummeted to to 8.6% -- its lowest rate in nearly three years. The dip bolstered optimism about economic growth.

Although there are glimmers of hope in the tough economic environment, there are still plenty of hurdles ahead.

In less than two weeks, a provision will expire affecting jobless Americans. According to White House estimates, some 697,000 unemployed Americans could lose benefits by Jan. 14 and the number of Americans poised to lose benefits will top 2.6 million by March.  To top of page

Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.27%4.22%
15 yr fixed3.27%3.27%
5/1 ARM3.35%3.48%
30 yr refi4.23%4.20%
15 yr refi3.25%3.25%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Economic Calendar
Latest ReportNext Update
Home pricesAug 28
Consumer confidenceAug 28
GDPAug 29
Manufacturing (ISM)Sept 4
JobsSept 7
Inflation (CPI)Sept 14
Retail sales Sept 14
CNNMoney Sponsors
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.