Weekly Jobless Claims Drop Sharply

Biggest falloff in eight months, but Memorial Day holiday may have skewed results.

(AP) - The number of laid off workers filing claims for unemployment plunged last week by the largest amount in eight months, but it might have been a statistical fluke.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that 302,000 Americans filed for benefits last week, down by 35,000 from the previous week. Analysts had been expecting a much smaller decline of around 6,000.

It was the biggest one-week improvement since jobless claims fell by 65,000 during the week ending Sept. 24, a period when the claims figures were being buffeted by massive layoffs from the Gulf Coast hurricanes. The latest reading included the Memorial Day holiday. While seasonal adjustments typically account for its impact on claims, the holiday may have added some volatility to the numbers.

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