First-time jobless claims fall less than expected

Washington, D.C. Evidence that the job market remains weak, the number of new claims for unemployment benefits fell less than expected last week, according to the latest report from the Labor Department.

The U.S. Labor Department said Thursday that first-time jobless claims dropped by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 470,000.

Analysts had expected a steeper drop to 450,000. The four week average rose for the second straight week to 456,250. The average had fallen for 19 straight weeks before starting to rise. That decline had given some analysts hope the economy would soon generate net job gains.

Economists monitor initial claims, which are considered a gauge of the pace of layoffs and an indication of companies' willingness to hire new workers.