BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho's unemployment insurance claims dropped to their lowest level since 2006, a year of strong economic growth that preceded the deep recession that began in December 2007.

The Department of Labor said Monday it paid 7,462 regular benefit claims during the third week of November, 14 fewer than that week in 2006. The amount paid was still 23 percent higher than 2006, however, because the average benefit is $25 higher this year at $255, reflecting benefit increases over the past seven years.

Through the third week of November, the total regular benefit payout was $108.1 million, compared to $91.3 million through the same 47 weeks in 2006. In addition to regular unemployment benefits, the department paid $585,000 in federally-financed extended benefits to 2,500 long-term unemployed workers. Those end Dec. 31.