(Update: Adds corporate layoffs and additional analysis throughout.)

Are job losses ebbing? According to the most recent data today about jobless benefit rolls, the answer might be a "could be."

Or, maybe we should ask again next week.

For the first time in weeks, unemployment insurance rolls took a breather and a dip.

After 21 straight weeks of increases, the total number of Americans continuing to collect unemployment benefits fell to 6.69 million for the week ending June 6. That reflects a plunge of 148,000 -- the biggest fall since 2001.

But numbers coming out of the U.S. Labor Department also showed that initial claims actually rose to 608,000, or a jump of 3,000, for the week ending June 13.

The four-week moving average for new claims, which tend to iron out the volatility in week-to-week changes, hit a new low since February, falling by 7,000 to 615,750.

Though the drop in those continuing unemployment benefits could be an indication that they're finding work, it's also an indication that those on the rolls at the beginning of the year simply had benefits expire this month. Plus, keep your eyes peeled next week, as the Labor Department has a habit of revising numbers and estimates after the fact.

As more look to job stats as an

indicator of the recession's staying power, several companies continued to announce layoffs this week.

Lockheed Martin

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announced plans to slash 750 jobs at a plant in New York. MySpace, a subsidiary of

News Corp.

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, and


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also said they would eliminate 420 and 500 jobs respectively.

Still, those numbers pale in comparison to the announced cuts on January 26. On that one day alone, tens of thousands of jobs were cut, headlined by


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move to eliminate 20,000 workers. And thus, as usual, we are left to seek good news in the fact that our bad news could be worse.

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