A Labor Department report issued Thursday Oct. 8 shows initial claims for unemployment fell 33,000 from the prior week’s revised total to 521,000, the lowest level since the beginning of 2009. This figure was 19k less than the Thomson Reuters survey, giving some cause for hope amid a generally depressed economic outlook.

With the four-week average down to 539,750, there is strong evidence of a recovery in the labor market to many investors. The second lowest point this year being reached, on the graph of this closely watched statistic, indicates too many economists that the propensity for hiring by companies is up and that layoffs are less likely. Nevertheless the unemployment figures are still well-above the accepted 325,000 for initial claims, which signifies a robust economy.

The outstanding number of claimants also fell 1.8%, defying analysts’ expectations of a growing pool of recipients. For the week ending Sept. 19, the total number of recipients dropped a full percentage point to 8.9 million (the latest date for which figures are available), after inclusion of federal emergency programs. Congress has considered increasing the 53-week extension, which applies in addition to the existing 26 weeks provided by states, by another 13 weeks.

Unemployment was up 0.1% in September, with 263,000 jobs lost for a net of 7.2 million to date, making this recession the worst since the 30’s. Bernanke commented on the 3% growth rate for July-September, indicating that even with projected growth at this rate, unemployment would likely remain above 9% by the end of 2010.

Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc. announced that it would close its Dubuque, Iowa facility next year, laying off 350. California showed a marked decrease of overall employment in the construction and service sectors, with 4,467 new claims, taking first place ahead of Ohio, Illinois and Missouri. By contrast, New York’s construction and service sectors were up, with 2,253 fewer claims. This state-by-state data, which lags behind initial claims by one week, indicated that, after New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Florida all showed significantly fewer claims as well.