WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of newly laid off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits fell last week by a larger-than-expected amount.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for jobless benefits totaled 348,000 last week, down by 9,000 from the previous week.
Analysts had been expecting a slightly smaller decrease of around 6,000.
The four-week average for claims, which smoothes out the weekly volatility, rose by 3,500 to 347,250, the highest level for this number since October 2005.
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