New jobless claims sink; 4-week average lowest since '08 - USATODAY.com WASHINGTON (AP) Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell slightly in the U.S. last week. The Labor Department said Thursday that new jobless benefit claims dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 439,000, nearly matching analysts' estimates. It's the fourth drop in five weeks. The four-week average of claims, which smooths volatility, fell nearly 7,000 to 447,250, the lowest total since the week of Sept. 13, 2008, just before Lehman Brothers collapsed and the financial crisis intensified. Most economists expect jobless claims will soon drop below 425,000, a level that will likely signal sustained job creation. The report comes a day before the Labor Department is scheduled to release the March employment report. Economists expect it will show the economy generated 190,000 jobs last month, the most in three years and only the second gain since the recession began.