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Claims for Unemployment Benefits Drop by 17,000

Photo Courtesy - Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite lawmakers paralyzed by partisan politics in Washington, the tattered economy seems to be mending on its own.

The latest signal of better health arrived Thursday from the Labor Department, which said that jobless claims fell to 421,000 last week.

That figure represents a drop of 17,000 from the week before but is still 11,000 more than the 410,000 claims for unemployment benefits during the week of Thanksgiving, which was the lowest number in two years.

Unemployment now stands at 9.8 percent overall, although it might drop in December because of all the seasonal hirings.

Adding to the optimism Thursday was a report of 801 chief financial officers, compiled by Bank of America, that says 47 percent expected their companies to bring on new help in 2011.  At this time last year, only 28 percent said the same for the upcoming year.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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