There was more, incremental progress on the labor front, as initial jobless claims fell 3,000 to 450,000 and continuing claims plunged 84,000 to 4.49 million last week, the U.S. Labor Department announced Thursday.

Initial jobless claims have now fallen about 11% since early summer, and economists and business executives hope the summer's jobless claims surge above 510,000 reflected primarily typical seasonal layoffs, not renewed weakness in the economy.

A Bloomberg survey had expected initial jobless claims to total 455,000.

In addition, the four-week moving average plummeted 13,500 to 464,750. Economists emphasize the more-telling four-week average, as it smooths-out anomalies due to holidays, strikes, and weather-related layoffs.

Jobless claims need to drop below 400,000 during the next two quarters to give economists and investors confidence that commercial activity is increasing at a pace that will prompt companies to curtail layoffs and resume hiring.

During an adequate expansion, jobless claims are capable of falling much lower. During the 2002 to 2007 expansion, they fell below 370,000 for more than two years. And during the "Roaring 90s," jobless claims basically remained below 350,000 for more than five years.

Labor Market: Minor Progress In Past Year

A year ago, initial jobless claims totaled 547,000, the four-week moving average was at 559,500, and continuing claims totaled 6.11 million.

States also reported 4.11 million persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending Aug. 28, the latest week for which data is available, a decrease of 402,116 from the prior week. A year ago, there were 3.18 million persons claiming EUC benefits.

Another sign that labor markets continue to heal after the summer doldrums concerns claims totals among states that experienced increases in initial jobless claims.

For the week ending Sept. 4, the latest week for which data is available, the states with the highest claims increases had low totals: Pennsylvania, 1,442; Washington state 1,190; and Texas, 809. That's something one sees as layoffs subside and hiring picks up. Moreover, if that trend continues in the months ahead, it will confirm a labor market that's healing.

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the only reason continuing claims have fallen is because people are running out of unemployment and are told to stop filing or are unable to file because the system stops them when they have no money left

September 24 2010 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Claims fell because there are a lot of new 99ers!

September 17 2010 at 6:40 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Did the number of people dropping off the long term roll find jobs? Or, are they just no longer receiving benefits? While it is good to see that new claims and continuing claims are falling, I'd like to know that real employment is growing before I start thinking that things are getting better...

September 17 2010 at 6:10 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

450,000 people file for unemployment and they think this is good.........tickle my fancy but thats almost a half million at this rate by the time Obama leaves office no one will be working..

September 16 2010 at 10:40 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

NO JOBS! NO MONEY! ... but a lot of Sales Tax Hotel Tax School Tax Liquor Tax Luxury Tax Excise Taxes Property Tax Cigarette Tax Medicare Tax Inventory Tax Car Rental Tax Real Estate Tax Well Permit Tax Fuel Permit Tax Inheritance Tax Road Usage Tax CDL license Tax Dog License Tax State Income Tax Food License Tax Vehicle Sales Tax Gross Receipts Tax Social Security Tax Service Charge Tax Fishing License Tax Federal Income Tax Building Permit Tax IRS Interest Charges Hunting License Tax Marriage License Tax Corporate Income Tax Personal Property Tax Accounts Receivable Tax Recreational Vehicle Tax Workers Compensation Tax Watercraft Registration Tax Telephone Usage Charge Tax Telephone Federal Excise Tax Telephone State and Local Tax IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax) State Unemployment Tax (SUTA) Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA) Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax Telephone Federal Universal Service FeeTax Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon) Utility Taxes Vehicle License Registration Tax Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, & our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids. We also were A Common Law Country! I have set up a place that the poor and middle class in the country can start to get some of this tax money back. It is our turn to have a piece of the action. Here is my way to get your loot back. Just google EASY STOCK CASH and click the first link. Once you get there, go right to the PENNY STOCK page to see what the rich don't want you to know.

September 16 2010 at 8:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Robert & Lisa

Cut government spending and regulations in half and we'll have a standard of living increase that will astound everyone. That's what led to the roaring 20's 90 years ago... Then government spending and taxes went up and we had the great depression.

September 16 2010 at 7:26 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

What an absolute joke, these figures are so far from the truth its not even funny ! The real unemployment numbers , which will be revealed of course after Wall ST gets all your money will be sobering ! How much longer do we have to listen to these fake feel good reports to ease investor caution....Do you have any idea how DUMB they think you are?

September 16 2010 at 6:34 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Unemployment claims fall-- lower than expected. What happened to the NEW HIRES from the community organizer & his stimulus plan???? How many more weeks of this lost job economy can this country endure?? Next time don't vote for the socialist!!!!!!!!!

September 16 2010 at 4:25 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cpo1514's comment

The first time claims number does not now nor has it ever had anything at all to do with the employment number. (Have IQs really fallen so low?)

September 16 2010 at 4:37 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

How is unemployment tracked? When people use up unemployment, are they now considered employed? When they move from unemployment to another system, are they no longer considered unemployment? Do the 3000 less last week in unemployment fall in any category above or another category?

September 16 2010 at 12:56 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Welcome's comment

The unemployment rate is the number of people actively looking for a job divided by the sum of the number of people employed plus the number of people unemployed but lookg for a job ... all times 100, of course. The unemployment statistic is entirely unrelated to the number of people on or off unemployment insurance.

September 16 2010 at 1:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I work for a major international energy company. We just completed a round of re-organizing (lay-offs) in 2010. The company states that lay-offs will continue thru 2011 :( Not good news.

September 16 2010 at 12:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to pws1946's comment

Internationlly, domestically, or both?

September 16 2010 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The restructuring that I am familiar with has occured domestically,... the upstream is actually expanding as foreign opportunities open up. The US downstream is consolidating & reducing expendatures.

September 16 2010 at 7:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply