There were 370,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, down 25,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says.
The drop is another sign that after several weeks of spikes because many people were thrown out of work due to damage related to late October's Superstorm Sandy, claims have now settled back into the range where they've been for most of the past year.
We'll get much more news about the labor market on Friday, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the November unemployment rate and figures on payroll employment.
Reuters reports that economists expect BLS will say that employers added just 93,000 jobs to payrolls last month. Weak growth like that means it's unlikely the unemployment rate — 7.9 percent in October — fell in November.
Another reason to expect a relatively weak report about last month's labor market:
"Job cuts increased for the third consecutive month in November, as employers announced plans to shed 57,081 workers from their payrolls. That was up 20 percent from the previous month when announced layoffs totaled 47,724, according to the latest report from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. November cuts were 34 percent higher than the 42,474 job cuts announced by employers in the eleventh month of 2011."