Jobless Claims Tumble 18%

December 13, 2001 ( - Initial unemployment benefit claims fell sharply to 394,000 in the week ending December 8, a drop of 86,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 480,000, according to data released by the Department of Labor.

While the 18% drop is the largest decrease in initial claims since August 1992, it is slightly shy of economists’ expectations.

The 4-week moving average, which most economists view as a better measure of the unemployment picture because it smoothes out weekly volatility, fell by 12,000, to reach 450,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 462,000.

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The number of those continuing to claim unemployment benefits increased by 36,000 for the week ending December 1, bringing the number of those remaining unemployed to 3.7 million.