New claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week as layoffs ease and hiring slowly recovers.
The Labor Department said first-time claims dropped by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 442,000. That's below analysts' estimate of 450,000, according to Thomson Reuters.
But most of the drop resulted from a change in the calculations the department makes to seasonally adjust the data, a Labor Department analyst said. The department updates its methods every year. Excluding the effect of those adjustments, claims would have fallen by only 4,000.
The four-week average of claims, which smooths volatility, dropped by 11,000 to 453,750, the lowest since September 2008, when the financial crisis intensified.