updated 10/16/2008 8:42:34 AM ET 2008-10-16T12:42:34

New claims for jobless benefits dropped more than expected last week as the impact of two hurricanes in September faded.

The Labor Department says initial claims for unemployment insurance last week fell 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted level of 461,000. That’s below analysts’ expectations of 475,000.

Despite the decline, the total remains at levels economists associate with a recession and is high by historical standards. Last year, claims stood at 338,000.

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