The U.S. Labor Department said first-time jobless benefits claims dropped by 22,000 to 344,000 in the week that ended Saturday. Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell from a revised 366,000 from the previous week. Previously, last week's claims were reported as 362,000.
The decline for the week more than erases the climb of 20,000 from the prior week.
The four-week rolling average for the week rose to 355,000, down 6,750 from the previous week's revised figure of 361,750.
The largest increases in claims for the week that ended Feb. 16 were in California with a jump of 26,683 and Connecticut with a gain of 1,747. The largest declines were in Illinois and Kansas with drops of 3,285 and 3,114, respectively.
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