New jobless claims drop more than expected to 601K

WASHINGTON – The tally of newly laid-off Americans requesting jobless benefits fell for the third time in the past four weeks, fresh evidence that companies are cutting fewer jobs.

The Labor Department says initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped last week by 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 601,000. That's below analysts' estimates of 615,000.

Continuing claims rose by 59,000 to 6.8 million, the highest on records dating to 1967. The department also revised last week's data, replacing what had been a drop of 15,000 with an increase of 6,000.

That means continuing claims have risen to record levels for 19 straight weeks.