The Labor Department said Thursday that new claims for unemployment insurance dropped last week to a seasonally adjusted 521,000, better than analysts expected and down from 554,000 the previous week.
Workers who were laid-off and whose unemployment insurance is about to expire have been given a lifeline as Senate Democrats agreed Thursday to extend benefits to those people for another 14 weeks.
The move applies to unemployed people in all 50 states which is a much better deal than a House vote last month that approved extending benefits 13 weeks only in the 27 states where unemployment rates exceeded 8.5 percent. The Senate deal would give people in those states an additional 6 weeks of unemployment pay on top of the 14 weeks.
The news came as jobless figures showed that people claiming unemployment insurance for the first time has reached its lowest level since January -- a positive trend that experts believe shows an improvement in the labor market, but does not mean companies are willing to hire new workers.
According to Labor Department numbers, people claiming benefits for the first time fell to 539,750 over a four-week period. Overall, the number of people still receiving benefits fell by 72,000 to 6.04 million. Economists insist that during a healthy economy, new unemployment claims shouldn't exceed 325,000 a month.
Get more: Associated Press