WASHINGTON -- New applications for US unemployment benefits fell last week by 19,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 366,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, putting claims at the lowest level since May 2008.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to rise by 9,000 to 390,000 in the week ended Dec. 10.
Claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 385,000 from 381,000. Jobless claims have held below 400,000 -- a level historically associated with an improving labor market -- in five of the past six weeks.
The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, fell by 6,500 to 387,750, to the lowest level since July 2008. Continuing claims rose by 4,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 3.6 million in the week ended Dec. 3.
About 7.45 million people received some kind of state or federal benefit in the week ended Nov. 26, an increase of 874,670 from the prior week.