Jobless Claims Decline by Larger-Than-Expected Amount

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER | AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of newly laid off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits fell last week by a larger-than-expected amount.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for jobless benefits totaled 348,000 last week, down by 9,000 from the previous week.

Analysts had been expecting a slightly smaller decrease of around 6,000.

The four-week average for claims, which smoothes out the weekly volatility, rose by 3,500 to 347,250, the highest level for this number since October 2005.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.