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.
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