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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

New Jobless, Total Unemployment Claims Take Surprise Dip

New jobless claims and the total number of people getting unemployment benefits both dropped unexpectedly last week, but don't get too excited: Most economists believe it's not necessarily the sign of a turnaround.

This week's total number of requests for unemployment benefits stands at 639,000, down from last week's number of 670,000.

Also this week, the total number of people who have taken unemployment benefits stands at 5.1 million, slightly down from last week's number of 5.12 million, following five straight weeks of hikes to record highs.

U.S. unemployment now stands at 7.6 percent, but it's important to remember that the Labor Department does not include out-of-work Americans who have given up looking for a job in its numbers, so the 7.6 percent figure is artificially low.

Tomorrow, the Labor Department will release its job report, which could move the figure higher. The Fed, for instance, predicts unemployment will rise to between 8.5 percent and 8.75 percent by the end of the year.

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  March 5, 2009; 11:19 AM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: unemployment  
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