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December 19, 2003
Unemployment Claims Fall

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Fewer people filed initial claims for unemployment benefits last week, the Department of Labor reported.

In the week ending December 13, the number of initial claims dropped to 353,000 after seasonal adjustment, a decrease of 22,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 375,000. The four-week moving average, which smoothes fluctuations from week to week, was 361,750, a decrease of 2,250 from the previous week's revised average of 364,000.

Reuters reports that economists had expected significantly higher initial claims. The claims also remained under 400,000, a threshold economists use to evaluate whether the labor market is improving, Reuters notes.

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