The government says the number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for jobless benefits dropped last week, and the number of people remaining on the rolls also fell, evidence that layoffs have eased.
Still, both figures remain above levels associated with a healthy economy, and analysts expect the unemployment rate to keep rising.
The Labor Department said Thursday first-time unemployment claims fell to a seasonally-adjusted 570,000, down from an upwardly revised figure of 580,000 the previous week. Analysts expected a slightly larger drop to 565,000.
The tally of those continuing to claim benefits dropped to 6.13 million from 6.25 million in the previous week, the lowest level since early April.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.