The U.S. Labor Department Thursday said first-time jobless benefits claims fell by 26,000 in the week ending Saturday.
Initial unemployment benefits claims for the week came to 359,000, down from the revised figure of 385,000 for the previous week.
The four-week rolling average was 374,000, up 2,000 from the previous week's revised average of 378,500.
The advance number of unadjusted actual first-time jobless benefits claims under state programs totaled 300,661 for the week, an decrease of 29,702 from the previous week, the Labor Department said.
There were 328,073 initial benefits claims in the comparable week in 2011, the department's Employment and Training Administration said in a release.