New Jobless Claims Drop Third Time in Four Weeks, Remain High

WASHINGTON -- New jobless claims fell last week for the third time in four weeks but remain elevated.

The Labor Department says first-time claims for unemployment insurance dropped by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 457,000. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected a smaller drop.

Claims have fluctuated this month due to temporary seasonal factors. General Motors and other manufacturers skipped their traditional summer shutdowns, which led to fewer layoffs and unemployment claims. But the impact of that distortion has largely faded from the data, a Labor Department analyst said.

The four-week average of claims, which smooths fluctuations, dropped to 452,500, the lowest level since May. Economists say jobless claims need to fall to at least 425,000 to signal sustained job growth.