Nevada officials say that the number of new applications for unemployment benefits has dropped for the 26th straight month, but last month's figures showed the smallest decline over that entire period.
The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said Monday the agency saw 23,736 new claims last month, down 6 percent from January 2011.
On average, 83,850 people were receiving the benefits in January, including about 40,000 from regular benefits and almost 44,000 from the federal extended benefits program.
The agency distributed nearly $24 million in jobless benefits each week last month.
State economist Bill Anderson says the number of new claims is a key indicator of the direction of the job market. He says the falling number of new claims shows Nevada's economy is improving, but slowly.