Nov 19, 2009 9:16 AM by Associated Press

New weekly jobless benefit claims: 505,000

The number of newly laid-off workers seeking unemployment insurance was unchanged last week, while those continuing to claim benefits dipped.

The Labor Department says first-time claims for jobless benefits were a seasonally adjusted 505,000, the same as the previous week's revised figure and matching analysts' expectations.

The four-week average, which smooths out volatility, fell for the 11th straight week to 514,000, the lowest level in almost a year.

Economists closely track initial claims, which are considered a gauge of the pace of layoffs and an indication of companies' willingness to hire new workers.

The number of people continuing to claim benefits dropped by 39,000 to 5.61 million.


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