EMPLOYMENT

Jobless Claims Plummet

Layoffs may be slowing, but unemployed workers still can't find jobs. Jobless claims dropped to their lowest last week since the beginning of the year, largely because anticipated layoffs in the auto industry won't happen this month. New claims for unemployment insurance significantly beat analysts' expectations, dropping by 52,000 to 565,000, the Labor Department announced on Thursday. But while those initial claims fell, continuing claims jumped from 159,000 to 6.88 million—the highest number since 1967. New Jersey reported the largest increase in initial claims—apparently caused by seasonal layoffs related to school closings—and Florida the largest decrease, which it attributed to fewer layoffs in construction and manufacturing.