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Unemployment Targeted At 8%

The unemployment rate for U.S. workers in 2009 will average just over 8 percent in 2009, an Obama administration official announced Thursday.

The figure, presented by Christina Romer, Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, differs slightly than the forecast given by the Federal Reserve last week, which projected unemployment to hit between 8.5 and 8.8 percent this year.

Romer said unemployment will decrease slightly in 2010 — but fall much more rapidly after that and will eventually settle around 5 percent in the following years.

The current level is 7.6 percent.

The Labor Department said Thursday the number of newly laid-off Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose to 667,000 from the previous week's figure of 631,000. Analysts had been expecting a modest drop in claims. The new claims are the most since October 1982, though the labor force has grown by about half since then.