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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

NPR's Business News starts with a drop in new jobless claims.

How about that? The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 94,000 last week. That is the biggest decline in 16 years. Analysts do say the number was probably skewed by the Christmas holidays. Some people just didn't make the effort to go to the unemployment office because they were busy with the holiday. The jobless numbers are still dismal and do not signal any big improvement in labor conditions. The number of Americans collecting benefits hit more than four and a half million last week. That is the highest since December 1982, when the country was just getting out of a recession.

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