Jobless Claims Fall Sharply to 5-Year Low

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By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell sharply last week to its lowest level since the early days of the 2007-09 recession, suggesting the job market is still healing despite weakness in the broader economy.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 18,000 to a seasonally adjusted 324,000 the Labor Department said on Thursday. The level of claims was the lowest since January 2008, a month after the beginning of a deep recession. A Labor Department analyst said there was nothing unusual in the data and no states had estimated their claims.