The number of U.S. citizens initially applying for unemployment aid made a sharp downturn last week after jumping to the four-month high in the prior week, the U. S. Labor Department reported Thursday.
The tremendous fluctuation in the past several weeks showed that the labor market had been making limited progress.
The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits was 369,000 in the week ending Oct. 20, down 23,000 from the previous week's revised figure.
Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, which helps smooth out week-to-week volatility, climbed to 368,000, an increase of 1,500 from the previous week's revised figure. It was still in line with modest hiring.
The number of jobless claims below 375,000 generally indicates a sustained drop in the unemployment rate. The U.S. jobless rate dropped to 7.8 percent in September, the first time below 8 percent in almost four years, matching the level when President Barack Obama took office.
In addition, the report showed the advance figure for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Oct. 13 was 3.254 million, a decrease of 2,000 from the prior week.
To boost the anemic economic growth and labor market, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced last month it would expand its holdings of mortgage debt until the labor market improved significantly. But the cooling global economy and concerns over a U.S. fiscal cliff is still dampening the employment outlook.
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