Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Fall to 420,000

Initial jobless claims unexpectedly fell last week.

Claims fell 3,000 to 420,000 in the week ending Dec. 11, the Department of Labor said. The revised figure for the previous week was 423,000.

A survey of economists by The Wall Street Journal predicted that claims would rise slightly, according to MarketWatch.

Companies are slowly taking on new staff as the economic recovery takes hold. Still, the unemployment rate remains stuck above 9%.

"The recovery is still intact, but it's really not strong enough yet to push the unemployment rate down significantly, " Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates Inc told Bloomberg News before the report was released.

The four-week moving average, a clearer measure of unemployment trends, fell 5,250 to 422,750. The revised average for the previous week was 428,000.