There were 343,000 first-time claims in the week, the lowest number since early October and close to a multiyear low.
The four-week rolling average for the week was 381,500, a decrease of 27,000 from the previous week.
The unadjusted advance number of first-time unemployment benefits claims under state programs totaled 428,814 for the week, a decrease of 72,117 from the previous week, the Labor Department said.
There were 435,863 initial benefits claims in the comparable week in 2011, the department's Employment and Training Administration said.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]