U.S. unemployment benefit rolls fall to 4.5M

WASHINGTON — The tally of laid-off workers continuing to claim jobless benefits fell by the largest amount in almost a year, suggesting that more unemployed workers may be finding work.

At the same time, new claims for unemployment insurance dipped slightly for the third straight week.

The Labor Department says the total unemployment benefit rolls fell by 255,000 to a seasonally adjusted 4.5 million. It was the lowest total since December 2008. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected a much smaller drop.

The number of first-time claims fell by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 456,000. New claims have been stuck at 450,000 since the beginning of the year.

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