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The Department of Labor reported today that initial jobless claims fell to 388,000 for the week ending December 25, the lowest weekly level since early July 2008, almost two and-a-half years ago. That brought the four-week moving average down to 414,000 claims, the lowest count since late July 2008 (see chart).

In other positive labor market news this week, the American Staffing Association reported that its weekly Staffing Index was 100 for the week ending December 19. That marks the 14th consecutive week (except for a holiday-related drop around Thanksgiving) that the ASA Staffing Index has remained at a level of 100 or above. U.S. staffing employment is 45% higher than the first week of 2010, and is 16% higher than the same weekly period in 2009. And for late December, the demand for temporary and contract employment this year is above any of the previous years going back to 2006 (see bottom chart below. Click all charts to expand.)

Source: At Year's End, Labor Market Still Improving