Jobless Claims Hit Four-Year Low

    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 28: A homeless woman stands in the street on September 28, 2010 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. A new report released by the U.S. Census Data shows that the income gap between Americans is greater than at any other time on record. The report found that the top-earning 20% of Americans received 49.4% of the country's total income. Conversely, those living below the poverty line earned 3.4% of the national income. This is the highest disparity of wealth among all Western industrialized nations.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    Spencer Platt / Getty Images

    A new Labor Department report shows that applications for unemployment benefits have fallen to the lowest point in nearly four years as companies lay off fewer workers and hiring picks up. The economy added 243,000 jobs in January, driving the unemployment rate down to 8.3 percent. The data comes from a four-week measurement that indicated a continued decline in applications for benefits, which have fallen by 13 percent over the last year to 365,250. Other promising news came from the construction and manufacturing industries, with applications for building permits up and a new study showing that mid-Atlantic factories are seeing expanded activity.

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