WASHINGTON -- The number of new claims for jobless benefits fell unexpectedly last week, but the number of people continuing to claim benefits reached a 26-year high.
The Labor Department says initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped to a seasonally adjusted 509,000, from an upwardly revised figure of 530,000 for the previous week.
That's significantly below analysts' estimates of 537,000, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.
But the number of people continuing to claim unemployment benefits reached 4.09 million, the highest level since December 1982, when the economy was in a steep recession.
The U.S. job market has been reeling this year. Economists expect nonfarm payrolls, due to be reported by the Labor Department Friday, to show a decrease of 325,000 jobs in November. That would be an eleventh straight month of declines, after October's drop of 240,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, several major companies have announced thousands of job cuts this week, including
Bank of America
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