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Unemployment Claims Dip To Lowest Monthly Average In 6 Months

The Labor Department said today that claims of unemployment insurance dipped by 6,000 to 403,000. That brings the monthly average to to its lowest point in six months.

But careful, says The Wall Street Journal, the number still remains above 400,000, "indicating the labor market still is weak."

The Los Angeles Times reports this number likely means the unemployment rate will remain stagnant:

Based partly on this latest count of new-jobless claims, Barclays Capital Research said it was now looking for 100,000 net new jobs to be added this month, or about the same as in September. That's a little less than what's needed to keep pace with the growth of the working-age population. And that means the unemployment rate will most likely remain stuck at 9.1%.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, observed another trouble spot in the latest labor market indicator: rising ranks of unemployed civilian and military federal workers.

"Those who want smaller government are getting it in droves," she said in a note to clients. "The problem, especially for returning veterans, is that we don't seem to have jobs for them when they return home."

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.