- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2009

The number of new claims for unemployment insurance decreased last week by 33,000 to 521,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The agency also reported the number of continuing claims last week, ending Oct. 3, decreased to 6.04 million from 6.11 million the previous week.

The number of new claims is significantly lower than the nearly 700,000 a week filed in late January and February.

The number of new claims was less than analysts expected.

“The news was a little better, or less bad, than anticipated,” said Gregg S. Fisher, chief investment officer for the New York financial services firm Gerstein Fisher

The U.S. unemployment rate is now at 9.8 percent, up from 9.7 percent in August. The number is expected to reach 10 percent by the end of the year.

The number of U.S. residents now receiving state or federal unemployment insurance is 5.68 million.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending Sept. 19 were in Puerto Rico, 6.1 percent; Oregon, 5.3; Nevada, 5.2; Pennsylvania, 5.0; California, 4.9; and Michigan, 4.8.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Sept. 26 were in California, 4,467; Ohio, 3,421; Illinois, 1,815; and Missouri, 1,049.

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