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News Summary: US Jobless Claims Drop To 5-year Low

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ APPLICATIONS DROP: Weekly US unemployment benefit applications dropped 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 332,000. The fifth decline in six weeks also lowered the average number of weekly applications to a five-year low.

FEWER LAYOFFS: The drop shows that fewer layoffs are strengthening the job market. Applications for unemployment aid are a proxy for layoffs. The decline suggests companies aren't worried that business might fall off in the near future.

MORE JOB GAINS: The four-week average of applications has dropped 13 percent since mid-November. At the same time, net hiring has picked up.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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