The U.S. Labor Department Thursday said first-time jobless benefits claims dropped sharply in the week ending Saturday.
Initial claims fell by 23,000 to 369,000, the department said.
It was the third consecutive week of volatile movement in the data. Two weeks prior a drop of 30,000 cut the weekly figure down to 339,000, a 56-month low. In the previous weekly report, claims rose by 46,000, wiping out the gains of the week before.
The current four-week rolling average showed movement long-term is more muted. The average rose by 1,500 in the week to 368,000.
The advance number of unadjusted actual first-time jobless benefits claims under state programs totaled 342,702 for the week, a decrease of 20,032 from the previous week, the Labor Department said.
There were 377,156 initial benefits claims in the comparable week in 2011, the department's Employment and Training Administration said.
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