New US jobless claims drop to a 16-month low

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New unemployment benefits claims dropped by 71,000 in the week of Jan. 15, to 491,000, the lowest level of claims since September 1981, Monitor contributor Ed Townsend reports. The decline reported by the US Labor Department followed substantial gains in new claims in the two previous weeks, when the number filing for jobless benefits climbed to 568,000 in one week.

The number of new claimants in a week peaked at 654,000 in the third week of November before beginning a trend downward to 515,000 in December.

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