Washington, D.C. The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits last week fell to the lowest level since January, according to a report by Reuters.
The new numbers are evidence that the hard-hit labor market may be slowly improving.
Initial claims for state unemployment insurance dropped to 502,000 in the week ended Nov. 7 from a revised 514,000 the prior week. Analysts had expected claims to slip to 510,000 from an initially reported 512,000.
"It shows that companies are cutting jobs at a slower pace than during the financial crisis," Gary Thayer, chief macrostrategist for Wells Fargo Advisors in St. Louis, told Reuters. "We're trending in the right direction, but we are probably several months away from (rising) monthly payrolls numbers."
The U.S. economy lost 190,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate hit a 26-1/2-year high of 10.2%. While employers are cutting jobs at a slower pace than they were at the start of the year, economists expect the jobless rate to move higher before peaking in mid-2010.
While initial claims for jobless benefits are down sharply from the March peak of 674,000, analysts say they need to drop below 400,000 to offer a signal of job creation.