Initial claims for unemployment benefits in the United States fell back to 461k in the week ending Oct. 11, down from a seven-year high of 498k reached two weeks ago, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday. Continuing claims rose to 3.711 million for the week ending Oct. 4

The four-week moving average for initial claims is now 483k, up slightly from 482k last week.

Initial jobless claims were expected to drop to 470k. Last week's figure was revised down by 1k to 477k.

Continuing claims were expected to come in at 3.670 million for the week ending Oct. 4, following the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 3.671 million.

Continuing claims have been above the 3 million mark for 23 consecutive weeks. The four-week moving average is now 3.632 million, up from the moving average of 3.563 million in the previous week.

Claims have recently been higher than normal following new rules introduced by the Department of Labor that made filing for unemployment benefits easier, as well as effects from recent hurricanes, though economists agree those effects are beginning to wear off.

By Stephen Huebl and edited by Sarah Sussman
©CEP News Ltd. 2008